If one of the judges were actually lynched in the show ring, or a peeress of the realm took a champagne bath in public, that could cause surprise to frequenters of the Royal Dublin Society's Horse Show; practically nothing else could. The hurling of bricks this year through the plate glass of the Russell Hotel where the visiting jumping teams were staying caused only mild comment. A brief effort was made to give the incident a political slant by suggesting that the brick thrower was a Greek trying to upset the Turkish team, but it was later agreed that it was merely the act of someone entering with extra vigor into the spirit of horse show week.
Newcomers were, as usual, somewhat startled by such traditional goings on at the hunt balls as white-tied leaders of rank and fashion stripping to the waist and jumping off the balconies at 4 in the morning. On the other hand, Miss Norah Fitzgerald, prominent alike as wine merchant, hostess, sportswoman and philanthropist, who has seen more shows and hunt balls than most people her age, found the Meath Ball so lacking in sparkle that she sent out for a set of chessmen and a board and whiled away the early morning hours playing this game amid the popping champagne corks and the dancers.
Out at the Ballsbridge show grounds, the collective excitement and interest of about 50,000 people were about equally divided among the Brazilian jumpers who looked as if they were winning everything right up to the moment when they suddenly collapsed, the great row over the judging of the hunter championship and the question of whether the Suez crisis was going to frighten a lot of English money away from the bloodstock sales.
People said it was on account of Suez, because nobody likes to think that demand is maybe falling off anyway. But whatever may be the truth about that, it is a fact that yearling sales were much fewer than last year.
Out of 224 lots catalogued, 179 were offered and only 92 sold. Sold for a total of $47,604—giving an average of $517 per animal. That was 43 lots less than were sold last year, and the average price was down by $147. And last year had shown a decline on 1954.
RHUBARB, BUT NO RESIGNATION
The great row came about through the assertion of many—speaking bitterly and with foul oaths—that Peace Pact, which only achieved the status of reserve heavyweight carrying hunter, was a much better horse than Mr. T. D. Dreaper's Man o' War, the 4-year-old gelding which was awarded the championship of the show. Mr. Galway Greer, who won the championship in 1953 and 1954, took a look at Man o' War and said, "If that's the winner, God help Ireland."
There was an unprecedented delay of just over an hour while the judges wrangled about the final selection of the champion, and two of them threatened to resign rather than agree to the choice of Man o' War. However, nobody did in the end resign, and Man o' War got the top award.
Hunting men were particularly pleased by the success of Mr. Frank Boland's Merrion Kilglass, which won Class 11 for weight carrying hunters, 15 stone and upwards, 6 years and older. Merrion Kilglass is a full brother to The Quiet Man of the Italian jumping team and used to hunt regularly with the Ballymacad hounds. At Balls-bridge he seemed to be the answer to those critics who like to pretend that weight carrying winners at Dublin are show-offs and nothing else—would be no use in the hunting field. He jumped the course and—except for one very minor fault—had a clear round.