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Jumping to a new level on Connacht Grand Prix circuit

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Date Published: 26-May-2011

THE Olympic Saddlery Connacht Grand Prix League 2011 kicks off at Claremorris Equitation Club this Sunday, with a host of Galway riders competing for the overall prize fund of €45,000 in the 11-leg series.

Charged with the smooth running of the competition – which is heading into its fifth year – are Connacht Coordinator, Tom Dixon and Chairman of the League, Mark Duffy. Both men believe this year’s Grand Prix League will be bigger and better than ever.

“It has proved to be a huge success over the last four years,” says Dixon. “The entries are getting bigger and bigger each year and there is more and more prizemoney going into it. The League, though, has certainly bridged a gap, in that there was nothing really there for riders five years ago and now they have a competition that has proved to be a huge success. It has given, I suppose, riders the opportunity to better themselves before they move on to the national scene.”

While the average competing at any one show is 50, larger events, such as the Galway County Show, would have over 100 riders vying for the honours. In the first three years of the competition, Claremorris’ Karl Hanley – who has since emigrated and is running a successful yard in Germany – took the overall accolade, while Mohill’s John McGuinness pipped Gabriel Slattery of Irishtown for the title last year.

Galway riders have also featured prominently, with Michael Duffy – Mark’s nephew – not only winning a round of the League but also claiming the junior section title in 2010. With two new horses this year, the 16-year-old, who has won two silver medals at the European Pony Championships already, should give the older competitors a run for their money for the overall prize.

Among the others the organisers expect to feature are Belclare’s Rachel Creaven; the Lee family and Evan Flynn from Headford; Gort’s Jessica Burke, who won a gold medal at the European Pony Championships; Clarinbridge’s Sinéad Conneely; Ardrahan’s Amanda Fahey; and Bohermore native Owen Horan.

Damien Griffin from Ballinasloe also receives special mention. “He has been very successful internationally, coming second in the Hickstead Speed Derby last year,” says Mark Duffy. “So, he would be well up there.

“There will also be a few new faces this year, such as Stephen Moore in Rockmount (Claregalway). He has three horses that have been upgraded and this year they are ready for the Connacht League. He has been gearing them up for it.”

Given the current economic climate, one would imagine that a sport generally regarded as an expensive endeavour would be suffering. Duffy, though, stresses this has not been the case. “We actually think it (the downturn) has helped the Connacht League. Because we have been able to keep the prize fund high, we believe we will attract more competitors.

“In fact, we have the same prizemoney on offer as the national league – and you have it all in your own region. So, it reduces the cost of travel and that, in turn, should galvanise the support for the Connacht League rather than take from it.”

This point is reiterated by Dixon. “Going to shows, people can see where the value for money is, particularly in relation to the prizemoney. The Connacht League has €45,000 on offer this year and, again, because of that, I think we will see a lot of extra interest from outside the region this year.”

Indeed, the minimum prize fund per show is an impressive €3,000, with prizes for the top eight competitors each day. Several of the 11 legs will take place locally, namely Headford (June 11), Galway County (June 18), Loughrea (July 16), Ballinasloe (July 24) and Duffy’s Equestrian Centre (July 31).

Once again, Olympic Saddlery (Briarhill Business Park) is the main sponsors, with Horse Sport Ireland, Gain Horse Feeds/Brooklands Bedding, Cavalor Horse Feeds & Supplements and Elite Rosettes on board as associate sponsors. “Sponsorship is so important these days; it is absolutely vital,” says Dixon. “We are very appreciative of the amount we have been getting and all the sponsorship we have.”

However, Duffy – a son the former internationally renowned course builder, Paul Senior – insists that the success of the Connacht League is not just down to sponsorship alone, noting that those associated with showjumping in the West of Ireland have really embraced the competition “as their own”.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway Bay FM News Archives

Retail industry trade body welcomes B&Q announcement

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Date Published: 07-May-2013

Retail Excellence Ireland, the country’s largest retail industry trade body, has welcomed the news that 60 jobs have been saved at the city branch of B&Q.

It’s after the home improvements store successfully exited examinership.

Under the scheme, 2.4 million euro is to be invested by parent company Kingfisher plc, and B and Q will continue to trade at eight stores

This means 640 jobs have been saved nationwide, including 60 at the outlet in Knocknacarra.

However, David Fitzsimons of Retail Excellence Ireland says landlords need to be willing to help out smaller retailers too.

 

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Foundation reports nine Galway heart deaths each week

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Date Published: 09-May-2013

Nine people die in Galway every week from heart disease and stroke.

That’s according to the Irish Heart Foundation, which is launching its Happy Hearts Appeal today. (9/5)

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, launched the appeal today to help raise funds for the charity, which has seen increasing demand on its patient services.

The Foundation says it needs to raise at least half a million euro to maintain existing information services.

 

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Call to tackle delays at Oranmore rail crossing

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Date Published: 13-May-2013

Concerns have been raised over traffic delays at the railway crossing in Oranmore.

Councillor Jim Cuddy says he has received many representations from local motorists who have been experiencing extended delays.

He says the closed barrier can sometimes cause a traffic tailback as far as the roundabout near the Maldron hotel.

Cllr Cuddy has brought the matter to the attention of Iarnrod Eireann and has asked for an explanation as to why the crossing is closed for so long.

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