Third-place finish boosts Burke’s chances of getting place in Irish squad

SHOWJUMPER Marie Burke hopes her third place in yesterday’s Longines Grand Prix at the Fáilte Ireland Dublin Horse Show will earn her a place in Ireland’s World Equestrian Games (WEG) squad.

The Clare rider steered her big-jumping stallion Chippison to a text-book double-clear, marred only by one time fault in round one, to finish behind American winner Molly Ashe (Neuville) and Switzerland’s Markus Fuchs (La Toya).

Afterwards, Burke said her third place should make Irish team manager Robert Splaine take notice.

“My performance today should give Robert something to think about,” said the 42-year-old, who was only added to the 10-rider WEG long-list recently when Jessica Kurten’s name was scratched.

Burke outlined why Chippison, which she bred out of her mare Chipmount, was the ideal horse for WEG, of which the show jumping element begins on August 28 in Aachen, Germany.

“We did the Samsung Super League final in Barcelona in 2003 and 2004 and also finished second in the King’s Cup in Lisbon and third in the grand prix in Madrid this season,” said Burke.

She spoke of his great scope — more than evident yesterday — and added that the 13-year-old son of Cavalier would relish the potential five days jumping presented at WEG: “The more jumping he does, the better he gets. I jumped him four days this week and he is very competitive,” said Burke, who expressed a preference for the WEG ahead of the relegation battle in the Samsung Nations Cup Super League final in Barcelona next month.

Splaine had said prior to yesterday’s Grand Prix that the competition would play a part as he deliberated over his five-rider selection for WEG, but said he was also awaiting a veterinary assessment of Marion Hughes’s Heritage Transmission.

Yesterday, Hughes said the horse was “now 100%”.

Yesterday’s €120,000 competition saw Burke join eight others in round two. Fifth to go in the first round, she had picked what she said was an uncharacteristic time fault and was joined in the jump-off by compatriots Shane Breen (World Cruise) on a score of zero and Sarah-Kate Quinlivan (Newmarket Girl), on one fault.

Burke had made little work of the tricky course in round one of Quinlivan’s Dublin Grand Prix debut but in round two, her attempt unravelled at final two fences.

Swiss rider Markus Fuchs had also finished his first round on one fault and in round two he repeated Burke’s clear, but his faster time saw him take over the lead.

German Ulrich Kirchoff (Carino) knocked fence two and Frenchman Julien Epaillard (Icare Du Manet) and Breen fell foul of the penultimate, finishing seventh.

Meanwhile, the Irish national anthem echoed around the main arena three times on Saturday, ending a drought for the riders in green. The hat-trick was secured in a highly-entertaining manner, with victory going to Cian O’Connor on Casper. The Meath-based 27-year-old delighted the crowd with a record attempt at 2.31m. He failed, but only barely, as the 14-year-old grey gave it his all in the fifth round, leaving the record at 2.27m.

Aga Khan cup hero Shane Breen fired the first Irish salvo of the day, when taking the speed derby. Win number three came courtesy of Clement McMahon on Hermes De Reve in the Dublin Stakes. Cian O’Connor and Irish Independent Echo Beach were third, with Billy Twomey and Luidam seventh.

There was a minute’s silence in memory of Galway man Maxie Scully, former holder of the world bareback high-jump title, who died in the early hours of Saturday.

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