Riders’ meeting ‘hugely positive’

Ireland’s elite show jumpers are to gather in Dublin next month to formulate a strategy for championship success in what Darragh Kenny has described as a “hugely positive” development.

Riders’ meeting ‘hugely positive’

The meeting, to be held at Dublin Airport on November 14, is being organised by Horse Sport Ireland (HSI), following an approach to its high-performance committee by a number of the riders, according to Kenny.

Ireland has some of the world’s most successful show jumpers, yet team success at championship level has eluded them for many years, while failure to qualify a team for the last three Olympics does not reflect the talent of the Irish squad. Kenny is hopeful a meeting of minds can rectify this.

“A couple of riders came up with the idea of having a meeting,” said the US-based Offaly native yesterday.

“We have so many talented riders and top owners. We want to figure out what we need to do to qualify a team for the Olympics. More importantly, we want to figure out why we are not winning medals at championships.

“It’s about developing a formula to ensure Ireland is successful as a team at championships. It’s about getting ideas from riders.

“We went to the high performance committee with this. They were very receptive and they want to see the same thing: To make Ireland more successful as a team.

“I see this as a hugely positive development.”

It is understood that the top 20 riders in the world rankings have been invited to the meeting, along with riders that featured on teams at top-level nations cup shows.

While Ireland has not qualified a team for the last three Olympics, the meeting will be about looking to the future.

Long-term planning, better communication, and a fostering of team spirit are seen as key, along with the role of the manager.

Robert Splaine’s contract as Ireland manager concluded after the Olympics.

HSI last night confirmed the meeting would take place on November 14, saying: “The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the senior show jumping high performance programme for the next Olympic cycle.”

The Owners’ Pony and Young Riders Charity Show celebrates its 30th birthday this weekend, with its popularity as high as ever.

The show, in its 18th year at Millstreet, has attracted 3,000 entries, with spokesperson Keith Griffin saying another 400 to 500 can be expected as the show continues.

“I thought we would be down entries this year, as we clash with Southview in England, but we still have a lot to offer.

“We try to ensure the riders and their families have a good time, while enjoying top-class competition, so we are looking forward to another successful family show this weekend.”

The show has also attracted the services of highly-regarded Belgian course designer Luc Musette. “He’s a level-four course designer and builds at Global Champions Tour shows,” said Griffin. “Nick Skelton rates him one of the best in the world, and now he’s building the likes of the starter stakes for our show.”

This weekend’s event, which will have seven arenas in use, will add at least another €10,000 to the €310,000 raised for charity over the last 30 years. Crumlin Hospital and Temple St Children’s Hospital will benefit, along with Riding for the Disabled, St Vincent de Paul, the Irish Cancer Society, as well as local Cork charities. “We are also supporting an equine therapy unit at St Joseph’s Foundation in Granagh, Co Limerick,” said Griffin. “It caters for autistic young people. I’ve seen for myself the tremendous therapeutic benefits this provides.”

A feature tomorrow at the show will be the nations cup-style competitions, with a young rider team from Australia taking on the locals.

“Australian Jake Hunter works for Vinnie Duffy. Through him, we have three riders arriving from Australia to make up a team: Jamie Priestly, and two girls Mitchel Puelic and Brooke Langbecker,” said Griffin.

“The nations cup contests are designed to allow riders the opportunity to represent their country while avoiding the expense of going abroad.”

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