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CATHAL DANIELS – Young Eventing Star

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In 2012,  Cathal Daniels and ”Master Murrose” made history by winning both team and individual GOLD at the European Pony Eventing Championships in Fontainebleau, France. 

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In 2013, Cathal moved onto horses with one goal : to be selected for the Junior European Eventing Team.

He again achieved this goal, this time riding ”Rioghan Rua”. The pair had a very successful Championships and were part of the wining Irish team who took home another GOLD medal.

Since then, Cathal has gone from strength to strength.

Equestrian News & Sports Media sat down and spoke to this rising star recently and asked a few questions to learn more about the very exciting sport of eventing.

1. How did you get involved with eventing?

My progression into eventing was a very natural for me as my father and both my sisters evented. Growing up, we had lots of Pony Club and hunting experience. I was just very eager to give eventing a try.

2. Were you a member of any pony club?

Yes I was an active member of ‘Tynagh Pony Club’ since I was 5 years old. I still try to get involved with them when I have the time.

3. How did you decide eventing was the career for you?

Eventing is the ultimate challenge with three disciplines to perfect and balance. I enjoy the challenge, and the thrill you get from a great cross country round and this was a major factor in my decision in choosing eventing.

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4. Have you many owners/sponsors? 

I am very lucky to have had some great owners this season and thankfully that number is growing with new owners joining us for the coming season.

Sponsors are very important especially if you want to remain at the top of any sport . I am very lucky to have the support of ‘Red Mills feed’, ‘Tredstep’ and this year ‘Berney Bros Saddlery’ and ‘OrlDen Herbal products’ came on board.

5. Tell us a little bit about your recent trip to France for the Young horse world championships.

The World Breeders Championships in Le Lion d’Angers in France was my first international competition where I was competing against professional riders instead of in an aged category. This added a bit more excitement and challenge to the event . Le Lion is a really well organised and run event and is surrounded by beautiful landscape. I really enjoyed my time there and hope to return in the future .

6. Tell us a little bit about your best horses. Do you have many horses in work? I.E what level they are at, how much potential they have.

For 2014 I had a very strong string of horses ranging from all ages and levels. We had about 15-20 horses in work all season. Most of them are now on a break for the winter which gives us a chance to work on the younger horses and to prepare them for next season.

Five of my best horses this season were ‘Rioghan Rua’, ‘Mister Brightside’ , ‘HTS Tommy K’ ,  ‘Camee’, and ‘Kilrodan Queen B’.

‘Rioghan Rua’ owned by Margaret & Frank Kinsella, is a 7 year old mare who I won team gold at the European eventing championships in 2013 and 2014 and individual silver this year. She was also 16th at the World Breeders Championship in Le Lion d’Angers along with many other national winnings . She is a  mare for the future and will be aimed at 3 star level next year.

”Mister Brightside” is also owned by Margaret & Frank Kinsella. He was a new ride for me this year .We were 3rd at Tattersalls International  and rode our first 3 star in Ballindenisk. We were also 6th in our  first CIC3*.

”Camee” owned by the O’Flynn family is a 7 year old who I have ridden up through the ranks . He is very brave on the cross country and has really nice paces. He is going well at CNC2* and we hope to give him more international experience next season.

”HTS Tommy K” owned by John Clarke, came to me at the start of the season with no eventing experience . After some schooling and experience he progressed through the grades with some fantastic dressage scores . He finished the season with his second win in the CNCJ1* in Millstreet.

”Kilrodan Queen B” owned by John Craig, is a 6 year old mare that I have been competing since last season , she won the small event horse class in the RDS in 2013 and has won many CNCJ* classes this season .

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7. Do you find it difficult being based in Ireland?

No. At this stage in my career, it is best for me to be based in Ireland so I can have the support of my family and so I can be close for my owners . The number of International events in Ireland have increased so it is still possible to get a good number of events done each season within Ireland.

8. Have there been many improvements in the sport of Eventing in recent years? Do you see room for any improvements?

There has been great improvements in the standard of events and the safety aspects to each element. It would be nice however if the national media would give Eventing  more attention , Eventing Ireland and Horse Sport Ireland are great at promoting the sport and all its success but it is very rarely picked up by the media.

9. Do you ever get nervous before events? If so, how do you control that?

I generally don’t get nervous about things, you feel the rush of adrenaline before a big class but that’s good to keep you alert and focused.

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10. How long would it take to get a horse fit for a 3 day event? What training would you do to get them fit enough for an event like this?

About 14- 16 weeks, depending on what work they have done previously. If I plan to do a 3 day event with a horse during the season I usually work backwards from the date of the event and plan what one or two day events I want them to do. I also like to focus on each element of eventing by doing some training dressage and jumping shows. We are very lucky to have forestry near our yard which is great for getting them fit and muscle development.

11. What is your typical day?

I try to be on the yard for 8am to feed and check on all the horses. While they are eating, my father and I plan for the day and get started on the mucking out. I try to get most of the riding done by lunch time so after lunch I can work with the young horses or prepare for an upcoming event. The evenings are usually spent tidying up the yard and doing any little tasks with the horses, like clipping , grooming , tack etc. Dinner time is 7pm and before we head to our own beds the horses are checked one last time.

12. What advice would you give to a young rider thinking about a career in eventing?

Get as much experience as you can , ride different ponies and horses , find a coach / instructor that works for you and always ask questions.

13. What do you like to do in your free time?

I try to meet up with friends and I always enjoy a good days hunting .

14. What would you look for in a young eventing prospect?

Three good paces, a good jumping technique and a horse that wants to learn , a horse with a good mind makes things that little bit easier and is the key to building a good partnership.

15. What are your short term goals and long terms goals?

Short term goals are to make the European Young Rider Team in 2015, to build up my team of horses and to progress with all of them.

Long term ……..I have Rio in my sights .

Cathal Daniels has a fantastic frame of mind and a work ethic of a true, top professional. This young man is headed straight for the very top of the Eventing scene and Ireland are lucky to have him wear the green white and gold.Keep an eye out for this young man!!!

Best of luck to Cathal and his team at Callatra Stables for the season ahead.

*All photographs are courtesy of Cathal Daniels.

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