Bal­moral mae­stro

David Lyons has been a pro­lific win­ner at the fa­mous show over the last 40 years, writes

Irish Independent - Farming - - HORSES -

DAVID Lyons has ac­cu­mu­lated more sil­ver­ware at Bal­moral Show than he prob­a­bly cares to re­mem­ber. As a reg­u­lar on the horse-show­ing cir­cuit there for well over 40 years, it is safe to say there’s not much he hasn’t won at this fa­mous venue.

“My ear­li­est mem­o­ries are when I was there as a young child with my fa­ther,” the Bal­ly­nahinch, Co Down, na­tive said. “It was great to get out of school to watch all the show­ing classes.”

His fa­ther Joe Lyons was an­other stal­wart of the show and David re­mem­bers first join­ing him in the ring at the age of 16.

Some of the early suc­cesses in­clude those with Beech­grove Light, a win­ner in Bal­moral be­fore go­ing on to claim the re­serve sash in the cov­eted Lim­er­ick Lady Cham­pi­onship.

“Felic­ity Roberts was an­other to have earned sev­eral rib­bons at Bal­moral in the 1990s, with her ac­co­lades in­clud­ing cham­pion filly and re­serve supreme.”

Hav­ing learned the trade from his fa­ther, David has since shown horses and ponies all over Ire­land and the UK, but Bal­moral con­tin­ues to be one of his favourite venues.

From lead rein classes with his daugh­ter Janet, to young­stock, brood­mares and foals, he has done it all. His wife Gillian also has a long as­so­ci­a­tion with Bal­moral, hav­ing grown up watch­ing her par­ents ex­hibit in the cat­tle rings. To­gether they have passed on the in­ter­est to their three daugh­ters, Janet, Gillian and Caro­line. The show is also a pop­u­lar venue for David’s brother Michael. To­gether with his wife Ann, they run a suc­cess­ful show horse op­er­a­tion nearby and were in the win­ner’s en­clo­sure as re­cent as last year.

Noted for their suc­cesses at the RDS in the 1990s with Green­hall Flow­ing River, their most re­cent win at Balls­bridge came in 2017 when Emir’s Flight took the re­serve cham­pion year­ling ac­co­lade be­hind Hughie and Mary Mur­phy’s Bar­naview Misty River.

In re­cent years David has cut down on his own breed­ing stock and in­stead prefers to con­cen­trate on keep­ing mares and show horses for some of his loyal clients.

Cham­pion mare

In 2010 he showed Ronnie McCombe’s three-year-old, My Lis­na­gade by Em­peror Au­gus­tus, to win the re­serve filly ti­tle at the Dublin Horse Show.

De­spite com­ing close on many oc­ca­sions, it took David many years to crack the Breed­ers’ Cham­pi­onship at the RDS. In 2016 he and his daugh­ter Caro­line, a vet­eri­nary nurse, fi­nally had their mo­ment of glory when land­ing the cov­eted prize with Paula Howard’s Slate­quarry Sasha and her colt foal by Greenan Fort. To cap off a great week, the daugh­ter of Gha­reeb was also crowned cham­pion mare of the show for the Coote Cup.

Placed fourth at Bal­moral in 2016, last year Slate­quarry Sasha re­turned to the show­grounds and claimed the supreme sash be­fore head­ing back to Dublin where her colt foal by Cen­trestage won his class. The mare was later sold on to Cork­based John Bur­chall.

As with most show­ing yards, as one horse leaves, an­other one soon ar­rives, and this year David brings along Paula’s fiveyear-old mare Der­na­hat­ten Out of Touch who will be shown in­hand with her foal by the thor­ough­bred sire Greenan Fort.

A coun­cil worker for Belfast City Coun­cil, David now keeps many of the mares owned by Paula and has en­joyed watch­ing some of their win­ning prog­eny go on to achieve fur­ther suc­cess as older horses.

“Pil­town Lass did ex­cep­tion­ally well for us in the show ring and bred sev­eral win­ners at Dublin and Bal­moral. These in­clude Tim­pany King and Tim- pany Em­peror.” Oth­ers boast­ing the pre­fix in­clude Tim­pany Night, now event­ing with Clare Ab­bott, and Tim­pany Flight Hero, win­ner of the All-Ire­land Three-Year-Old Cham­pi­onship in 2010 for owner Betsy Dunne. He later went event­ing with Richard Ir­win.

This week David also heads to Bal­moral with his daugh­ter Caro­line’s two-year-old filly Hill­billy Girl, an­other by Greenan Fort out of Coun­try Ways, by Em­peror Au­gus­tus.

“We bought her from Dessie Gib­son as a foal and only showed her once as a year­ling. She won that day and we’ve let her off to de­velop ever since,” David said.

Caro­line, mean­while, will be busy else­where on the show- grounds ex­hibit­ing her pure­bred Zwart­ble sheep as well as a new ad­di­tion to the farm, an Ir­ish Moiled heifer.

David’s el­dest daugh­ter Janet has won flo­ral ar­rang­ing com­pe­ti­tions there for the past num­ber of years, while Ju­dith, who is a chef at the nearby Mill­brook House Ho­tel, is a reg­u­lar ex­hibitor of rare breed hens. Between them all this week they will con­test a to­tal of 24 classes, all with the as­sis­tance of David’s wife Gillian who is a cru­cial mem­ber of the sup­port team.

“It’s go­ing to be very a busy week and ev­ery­one will be re­ly­ing on each other to lend a help­ing hand, but we wouldn’t have it any other way,” David con­cluded.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.