Irish quartet take World Cup series battle to Stuttgart

Now that the Global Champions Tour has concluded for another year, the FEI World Cup series provides the main international show jumping focus in the months ahead.

The all-European division moves on to its fifth venue this weekend, with Stuttgart, Germany, playing host. Ireland’s Bertram Allen, Shane Breen, Michael G Duffy, and Cameron Hanley are listed for the event. Allen brings Izzy By Picobello, Dino W and It’s Me, the horse he co-owns with Cian O’Connor.

Among Breen’s string for the event are Laith and Ipswich van de Wolfsakker. Duffy takes Chappo Chey and Lapuccino, and Hanley goes with Aiyetoro, Eis Isaura, and Quirex.

Swedish rider Henrik Von Eckermann is set to compete at the event with Belcanto Z, formerly ridden successfully by Ireland’s Michael Duffy in the nations cup series earlier in the year before the horse was sold six months ago and consequently no longer available to the Irish team.

After Stuttgart, a further seven European rounds of the FEI World Cup series will take place before the qualifiers for the final in Paris next April are known.

Ireland’s Conor Swail, Mark McAuley, Shane Sweetnam, and Denis Lynch have netted decent results so far to put themselves in contention. 

Swail and Sweetnam have been competing in the North American division, while Lynch and McAuley are aligned to the European section, though Lynch’s biggest success in this year’s series came in a North American round at Lexington, where he partnered RMF Echo to victory two weeks ago. The points in such cases are transferred to the rider’s designated division, which in Lynch’s case is the European one.

Also competing at Stuttgart will be pony riders Abbie Sweetnam, Kate Derwin, Seamus Hughes-Kennedy, and Charlotte Houston. The FEI Ponies Trophy is a new addition to the World Cup series this year and the Irish have been excelling in it. 

This is the last leg before the final in Mechelen, Belgium, at the end of the year, and Sweetnam, Hughes-Kennedy, and Houston have done enough in the last two rounds to qualify for the final. 

Derwin is just on the fringes of the 20-rider cut, so a decent showing in Stuttgart may swing it and give the Irish a 100% strike-rate in the qualifying process.

While Germany stages the latest round, its federation is left to grapple with the loss of its eventing team’s European Championship silver medal following confirmation the B sample from Julia Krajewski’s horse Samouari du Thot proved positive for Firocoxib. 

Britain won the event, staged in Strzegom, Poland, in August, and now Sweden are promoted to silver, with Italy, who finished over 80 penalties behind the Germans, taking bronze. 

Ireland had finished fifth in the event. Michael Jung, Ingrid Klimke, and Bettina Hoy are the other German team members who will lose their silver medals.

Krajewski maintains she has no idea how the substance materialised in her horse. It’s not a banned substance, but it is a controlled substance, so, while the world governing body, the FEI, accepts it as a treatment for horses, it cannot be present in competition. 

That requires approximately a 30-day clearance if it has been used. The level found was high, leading Krajewski to conclude that the horse appeared to have acquired the substance during the competition, between the dressage and cross-country phases.

Firocoxib is contained in an equine treatment (Equioxx) and in a canine equivalent (Previcox). The German rider is adamant her horses had never been treated with it and that it was not in the German camp at the championships, so accidental contamination can be ruled out.

She has a 21-day window from confirmation of the B-sample result (November 8) in which to decide whether to accept the decision and pay a fine of around €3,000, or make her case to the FEI. As it is a controlled, not banned, substance, she will not face a suspension period, but the silver medal will have to go.

The FEI holds its Annual General Assembly in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo, this week. The four-day affair begins on Saturday.


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