Charles quits and offers services to England

DOUBLE European show-jumping gold medallist Peter Charles has opted to give up riding for Ireland and to put his name for forward for the British squad.

In a statement yesterday, the Equestrian Federation of Ireland said it had been informed by its parent body of the development.

“The EFI has been notified by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) that the show jumper Peter Charles has decided to relinquish his status as an Irish rider, and has applied instead for international selection with the Great Britain show jumping team.”

It is the 47-year-old Liverpool rider’s second time to change nationality, having started his international career in 1981 under the British flag.

However, his Irish parentage allowed him to don the green jacket and, in 1992, he exercised that option.

It is thought that, in order to revert to riding for Britain, the Hampshire-based rider had to revoke his Irish passport and, under FEI rules, he will not be allowed to change nationalitay again.

Rumours of 47-year-old Charles’s possible defection circulated last year as he grew ever-more disgruntled with the Irish management set-up and what he saw as diminishing opportunities to ride for Ireland. Nevertheless, he refused to give the rumours credence at the time.

For many years, Charles was a controlling influence in Irish international show jumping along with long-time chef d’equipe Tommy Wade.

A formidable rider, he claimed the individual European title in 1995 when he rode La Ina to victory in St Gallen, Switzerland. He added a team medal in 2001 at Arnhem, the Netherlands, where, riding Corrada, he was part of the gold medal-winning team, along with Jessica Kurten, Dermott Lennon and Kevin Babington. He has three Hickstead Derby titles to his credit along with 16 nations cup wins from 71 starts.

However, in recent years his contribution has declined as, in common with many Irish riders, he found difficulty finding a horse of sufficient ability to match his talents. His only outing on the team last year under new chef d’equipe Robert Splaine came in the Samsung Super League nations cup Rome, where Ireland finished fourth.

He contributed four faults to the team’s tally in round one, which helped to leave Ireland in joint second place at the half-way mark. However, he provided the discard score in the second round with 16 faults.

In its statement yesterday, the EFI acknowledged Charles’s “significant contribution” to Irish show jumping and it concluded, by “wishing Peter every success in his move back to the British team”.

It remains to be seen if its wishes come true and his new country gives him the opportunity he desires.

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