Ireland look to learn Olympic lessons

A liaison group for top-ranked show jumpers has been established following a meeting last Monday.

Ireland look to learn Olympic lessons

The meeting, organised by Horse Sport Ireland following an approach by a number of riders, was facilitated by Liam Moggan from Coaching Ireland. The high-performance programme for the next Olympics was discussed, in a bid to correct a situation that has seen Ireland fail to qualify a team for the last three Games.

Six riders were put forward as representatives of Irish riders in five different regions around the globe where Irish riders are based and regularly compete: Cameron Hanley, Marion Hughes, Darragh Kenny, Dermott Lennon, Shane Sweetnam, and Billy Twomey.

A HSI press release said: “A designated rider representative will be appointed to interface with HSI. It is envisaged that this person will not be a rider that is currently available for nations cup team selection, [but] possibly a retired rider or a person involved in the sport, not necessarily as a rider. It is envisaged that the rider representative will liaise with Horse Sport Ireland in setting the criteria for the role of the next Irish show jumping team manager.”

The chairperson of HSI’s senior show jumping committee, James Kennedy said: “We had an excellent meeting. We now have a very good footing in place for interface on an ongoing basis, with the focus on the next four-year cycle, and with the ultimate aim being to win an Olympic medal in show jumping at Tokyo 2020.”

The Goresbridge Go For Gold select auction of eventing horses exceeded the €1m mark for the first time on Wednesday, with the six-year-old Cornascriebe Glenpatrick smashing the record price when knocked down for €160,000, while grand prix horse Nickoletta E was sold for €460,000 at Tuesday’s associated Goresbridge Supreme Sale of Showjumpers.

This price shelled out for Cornascribe Glenpatrick almost doubled the €85,000 record paid for Gorsehill Pearl last year.

The Womanizer-sired Cornascribe Glenpatrick was one of two horses on the catalogue to carry Irish colours at this year’s World Breeding Championships in Le Lion d’Angers, with Britain’s Ellie Guy the purchaser.

The auction, held in the Amber Springs Hotel in Gorey, Co Wexford, saw Loughnavatta Cedar — the other Le Lion D’Angers representative offered for sale — secure the second highest price on the night, when bought by Rafael Sanctuary at River Lodge Eventing in Wexford for 70,000. Sanctuary also paid €45,000 for the four-year-old gelding MBF Mandino, winner of the loose-jumping championship at Dublin Horse Show, and he spent €28,000 on another four-year-old, Poynstown Stonehaven.

Goresbridge proprietor Martin Donohoe was delighted with the success of the annual sale, which saw 66 horses go under the hammer.

“There was a great buzz among everybody at the auction and there was seriously strong trade. At present, we are counting a 75% clearance rate, 49 horses sold, but a few more horses could be sold yet. It is a great shot in the arm for the horse industry.”

Notably, Rio Olympian Euro Prince was led out of the arena unsold after securing a top bid of €140,000 for owners/breeders John and Cormac McKay. The 13-year-old chestnut gelding was ridden by Clare Abbott and, aside from lining out in the Olympics, the pair competed at the 2014 World Equestrian Games, the 2013 European Championships and won the Ballindenisk CCI three-star class in 2014.

The auction also saw British star rider Ollie Townend pay €31,000 for an unnamed three-year-old, by Gemini XX, one of only two clone stallions of the legendary Gem Twist. My Kilcannon Annie, winner of the Young Event Horse Championship at this year’s Dublin Horse Show, went to Valentine Tourres for €25,000, while Kraig Joseph spent €32,000 on the three-year-old MBF Take Two.

The highlight of the Supreme Sale of Showjumpers on Tuesday was the sale of Cameron and Carl Hanley’s nine-year-old mare Nickoletta E for €460,000 to Neal Fearon and Michael Kearns.

Also prominent was Killossery Kaiden, winner of the six-year-old final at the World Breeding Federation World Championships, which was sold for €270,000 to American Adrienne Dixon. The horse produced the only double clear to secure the gold medal in Lanaken with rider Ger O’Neill. Dixon also paid €130,000 for J’Adore Flamenco, a four-year-old by Billy Twomey’s Je T’Aime Flamenco.

The Cork/Kerry Branch of the Irish Draught Horse Breeders Association hosted the national awards night in the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery, with the Leading Performance Irish Draught of the Year title going to Alicia Devlin Byrne’s King Flagmount (Welcome Flagmount), who won the performance ID championship at the RDS and went on to claim the inaugural Irish Horse Gateway Performance working hunter final in Punchestown.

The award for the young Irish Draught Show Horse of the year went to Pádraig Bohan’s Gortfadda Ruby Kingdom (Coolcronan Wood), bred by Sean Scannell from Ballyvourney. The Irish Draught Broodmare of the Year was John Bracken’s Uibh Fháile Duchess (Ballinrobe Boy). The Young Show Person of the Year went to popular local exhibitor, Sam Kingston Jnr.

The Cork/Kerry Branch honoured local heroes, with the award for Susan McCarthy — which had been kept secret — for promotion of the IDHBA and the Irish Draught breed receiving cheers that reputedly could be heard in Bandon.

There was no real surprise this week when it was announced that Damian McDonald was quitting as Horse Sport Ireland chief executive to take up the new role of director general with the Irish Farmers Association.

McDonald, who was appointed to the HSI job in 2007 and was formerly chief executive of Macra na Feirme, had seen his name linked to the IFA post for many months.

His departure from HSI comes as it deals with a number of reviews, notably that initiated by the Department of Agriculture, which has contracted Indecon to examine its structures.

I’m sad to say that after what I guess is about 23 years as the Irish Examiner equestrian correspondent, I cross the finish line today.

I will take this opportunity to thank my readers for their interest over the years, and all those who helped me in my endeavours to provide an informative service.

Ireland’s horse industry has a lot going for it, most importantly the people involved, and I am confident their commitment, talent, and professionalism will drive it to fulfill its huge potential.

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