Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon
Given the prominence of Gort’s Jessica Burke on the showjumping circuit, particularly over the last decade, it is hard to believe she is only 25 years of age. Then again, she was riding ponies at the age of six and by the age of 10 she had represented Ireland at international level.
Indeed, over the last 20 years, Burke’s star has continued to rise and, at the end of September, she will mark down another notable achievement on her CV when she makes her first trip to the World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses.
It is a big step for her – not only in terms of her sporting ambitions as a showjumper but also as a producer, handler and trainer of competition horses. “We have about 17 horses all year round and my boyfriend, Darragh Reilly, helps me with those. He works with horses as well,” outlines Burke, who runs her own business, Coole Sport Horses.
“We would have about 12 competition horses and they would be a mixture of our own and other owners. It has taken a bit of time to build up the business, having spent the last couple of years producing young horses and also trying to get the best quality ones we can (to the yard).
“This year, I have a great team of horses from four-year-olds up to eight-year-olds and a great bunch of owners as well. They keep us going along with our sponsors – Darragh Equestrian Solutions and HarryHall.com. Darragh Equestrian Solutions is named after the late Paul Darragh; it is Paul’s brother Dave’s company. So, that is where the name came from.”
As both a competitor and handler, Burke highlights she is having her most successful year ever in the sport, taking two national titles at the Dublin Horse Show in the RDS while also pulling off a national league double with five-year-old Miss Jilly and six-year-old Castlelawn Captain Junior, both of which are owned by Gabriel Slattery.
“We definitely have had our most successful year to date by a long way. The RDS is the biggest show in the country and it was our goal for the year to do well there. To win two of the four national championships was a dream come true really. I had never got near winning one of them before and then we won two in the one year!” she beams.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.