Lurgan Show: new competitor wins five awards with Welsh pony

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A Gawley's Gate resident scooped five awards at the Lurgan Show 2024, coming on the back of success at a recent event at Portmore Equestrian Centre and this year’s Balmoral Show.

Deborah McAleese competed in four carriage driving classes at the Lurgan Show on June 1, winning them all. She then won the Private Driving Championship at the same competition, held at Lurgan Park.

Saturday’s success was even more significant as it was only her third time competing, having also picked up victories at Potmore Euestrian Centre and last month’s Balmoral Show, the first two events she participated in.

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Deborah, who works as a dog groomer, got involved in the sport earlier this year, having been gifted 11-year-old pony ‘Meisgyn Captain Sam’ following the owner’s passing.

Deborah pictured with her groom, Kathy and Meisgyn Captain Sam. (Pic: Contributed).Deborah pictured with her groom, Kathy and Meisgyn Captain Sam. (Pic: Contributed).
Deborah pictured with her groom, Kathy and Meisgyn Captain Sam. (Pic: Contributed).

Speaking to the Lurgan Mail, Deborah’s husband Joe, who has been competing in shows for a number of years, stated: “I’m just really proud of Deborah and her achievements.

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"Meisgyn Captain Sam and Deborah have gelled really well and are doing incredibly well at the shows.

"I’ve been training horses and entering shows for years and Deborah was always in the background helping me. Seeing someone who has always been in the background now doing so well, she’s a shining light in carriage driving.

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"Meisgyn Captain Sam is in his prime and now that Deborah is competing with him, it’s had a really positive impact.”

Deborah’s triumphs at the Lurgan Show were not the only wins for Meisgyn Captain Sam as their son Ryan (16) also won on the same pony at Lurgan Park.

Joe explained: “Our son Ryan is autistic. He loves ponies and working with Meisgyn Captain Sam has really brought him out of his shell.

“The pony competed in 10 events on the same day and is enjoying a well-deserved week out in the field to recover before the training starts for his next show at Shane’s Castle.

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"The show season is a busy period. He’s been training from February and that will be him all the way to end of the season, then he rests over winter.

"The carriage driving is a brilliant sport to be involved in. People think that you need to have money behind you, but we’re from working class backgrounds and are winning awards. Everyone can get involved.”