Millstreet show secures Olympic jumps

Jumps used during last year’s London Olympics will grace the Green Glens arena next week for the annual Millstreet Horse Show.

Millstreet show secures Olympic jumps

So far, the Irish rider most familiar with them is Cian O’Connor who won bronze at the 2012 Games. That is all set to change as the number of entries for Ireland’s biggest annual equestrian event is set to rise for the second year running, with a total prize fund of more than €180,000 on offer.

The owner of Green Glens, Noel C Duggan, is chuffed with what could be termed a “coup de grass” by his son Thomas, the show’s director who negotiated the sale of the jumps in London.

“We don’t go in for stunts around here but this is generating a lot of excitement. When Thomas first suggested it, I threw my eyes up to Heaven but, fair play to him, he persevered and I am delighted that he did, because there is so much competition nowadays for every sport and every event.”

The Duggan family are pleased to once again put all their energy into what they know best, after years of protracted disagreement with Showjumping Ireland (SJI). The ongoing row between them is on the point of being settled after the SJI issued a frank apology designed to heal the bitter dispute that threatened to split Irish showjumping.

The dispute centred on insurance but escalated when the SJI threatened member parents that they would be sanctioned if they attended the show.

Two of Mr Duggan’s companies, Millstreet Horses Ltd and Noel C Duggan Engineering, lodged High Court proceedings against SJI in June 2010 but litigation was suspended while the Competition Authority examined the issue.

The Duggans were subsequently vindicated when the authority decided that the SJI had breached Irish and EU competition law.

Noel Duggan said the row cost him “a fortune” in 2010 but insists that he will not initiate any more litigation.

“If we were of the suing mentality we would be looking for about €2m for loss of earnings and the damage to our good name but, as far as I am concerned, the hatchet is buried and we want to move on.”

There will, however, be further talks between the parties in an effort to normalise relations and it is expected that mediation services may be used to advance this.

That healing is likely to be accelerated by Paddy Wall, the new chairman of Horse Sport Ireland, the governing body for the Irish sport horse industry. Wall, professor of public health at University College Dublin, is widely regarded as a progressive and inclusive figure.

Meanwhile, show director Thomas Duggan is putting the finishing touches to the show that has become Ireland’s largest shop window for the equestrian industry where young horse classes feature strongly.

The show features classes that cater for all age levels and grades with a full range of national classes as well as Ireland’s richest Pony Grand Prix with a prize fund of €4,500. Following its successful introduction in 2011, the National Eventing Discovery class also returns to the Green Glens this year.

Thomas can hardly wait for the arrival of the Olympic jumps, something that took skill and resolve to accomplish, indicating that he is every bit as determined as his father.

“Some are coming tomorrow and more on Tuesday. I got the idea when I was watching the Olympics and it took a bit of negotiation but it all came right in the end,” he said.

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