By John Tynan
EVENTING followers will be disappointed to hear that Blarney Castle International Three-day Event will not be run this year. The event was scheduled to return to the eventing calendar in 2006, having not run since 2001.
It was due to be revived at the end of July, but Eventing Ireland has decided not proceed with it, as it emerged venue owner Sir Charles Colthurst had received the go-ahead for a five-year development of the Blarney Castle estate.
A spokesperson for Eventing Ireland yesterday said it was better to cancel the event now rather than proceed with a question mark hanging over it. "Riders plan their schedule for the year and if doubts emerged about the event as the season progressed, it would have led to difficulties. It was felt that it was more prudent to make a decision now."
Blarney was one of the most popular events in Ireland, attracting the cream of the world’s riders. Even if it had proceeded, it was felt the estate development could constrain plans to relaunch the event to a level comparable to that which made the event world renowned.
The spokesperson stressed, however, that in terms of the number of international events in Ireland, 2006 remained one of the best. "Blarney may not be going ahead, but there are still five international events on the calendar," said the spokesperson, who said this equals the previous best.
The five events carrying international designation this year are: the World Cup show at Ballindenisk (April 22-23), Ballygraffan, Co Down (April 28-29), Punchestown (May 18-21), Tattersalls, Co Meath (June 1-4), Necarne, Co Fermanagh (September 14-17), which will host the European Junior Eventing Championships.
lTHE panel to select the team manager for the Irish show jumping team met yesterday for the first time to assess applications for the post.
The next step for the panel is to set up interviews with candidates. It was expected that these would take place next week, but that aim has proved overly-optimistic. Accordingly, any hopes that the successful applicant would be identified in time for the next meeting of the Equestrian Federation of Ireland executive on February 27 have proved unfounded.
The panel comprises two representatives from the Equestrian Federation of Ireland and Show Jumping Association of Ireland under a chairman appointed by the Irish Sports Council.
Robert Splaine remains the favourite for the team manager’s post, while Jack Doyle has refused to confirm or deny if he has applied. Doyle recently stepped down as chairman of the Showjumpers’ Club.
The EFI has refused to say who has applied for the job, or, how many, except to say it is more than one.
Meanwhile, the SJAI national executive met last night and was expected to discuss the decision of the EFI to take over sole selection of Irish teams, sidelining the SJAI.
lJESSICA KÜRTEN booked her ticket to the World Cup finals last weekend, when placing fourth in the qualifier at Vigo, Spain.
The result elevated her to seventh in the Western European League on 48 points, which is almost certain to see her line out in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in April.
Riding Quibell, 36-year-old Kürten was one of 14 to make the jump-off, with Cian O’Connor also in the mix.
Kürten and the 12-year-old mare repeated their first round clear, to finish just over two seconds behind victor, Austrian Thomas Frühmann on The Sixth Sense.
O’Connor and Irish Independent Echo Beach lowered two to finish last of the jump-off contingent, but he had earlier secured some consolation when first with the 12-year-old Zanoubia in an accumulator class.
Meath-based O’Connor was unlucky not to have notched up a double at the show, steering the 14-year-old gelding Casper to second place in a speed class, just four-hundredths of a second off the pace set by Ludo Philippaerts on Tauber VH Kapelhof.
The Irish pairing also had to settle for second in a 1.45m two-phase contest, with Germany’s Franke Sloothaak and Sundance K coming home three-quarters of a second faster.
Kürten was also in the money when fourth in a speed and handiness class on Laurus 14 and placing sixth in the masters with Castle Forbes Libertina.
* THE Cork/Kerry Branch of the SJAI will begin its spring league in Millstreet tomorrow. It will run for 10 weeks and will have two arenas in operation. Competition will start 10.30am sharp. The total prizefund will be in excess of €6,500.
On March 11 at the venue, the first leg of the national Guidam Spring League takes place, with PH Equestrian Products and Knightfield Equestrian bankrolling a €2,000 purse.
Another highlight will be the first leg of the national pony grand prix leagues on Saturday, April 15, with the following classes 148cms A/B, 138cms A/B, 128cms A/B and 128cms under-10s and 148cms 6/7-year-olds ponies. A total prizefund of €1,000 is up for grabs. A third arena will be in operation to cater for the above competitions.
* A SEMINAR on the benefits of correct feeding for the horse takes place in Oriel House, Ballincollig, Cork, on February 24 at 7.30pm.
The seminar is being held by PH Equestrian Products in association with Bailey’s Horse Feeds.