Lennon confident of return to form in Zurich

NOVEMBER in Toronto and Dermott Lennon is in top form. Fourth in the World Cup qualifier with Hallmark Elite and, along the way, picking up a couple of decent placings.

Since, however, results have proved elusive, with little by way of success at Frankfurt, Germany, and Zwolle in the Netherlands.

Lennon candidly, acknowledges he has experienced a downturn, but hopes to reverse this, when he lines out at the World Cup show in Zurich, Switzerland, with Woods Rosbotham’s 11-year-old bay gelding Hallmark Elite, Tolett and Kalvinretto.

“I did a couple of shows since coming back this side of the Atlantic. The horses were jumping OK, but the results were not happening. Maybe the two trips, to Kentucky for the World Equestrian Games and Toronto, took more out of Hallmark than I thought. The horses feel back in form again, though, and the homework is going well and I’m confident,” he said.

While Ireland is also represented at Zurich by Billy Twomey, Denis Lynch and Jessica Kürten, through personal invitations and their places in the world rankings top 10, Lennon is there by virtue of team manager Robert Splaine allocating him Ireland’s sole slot. He is languishing in 38th place in the Western European league, but is hoping by Monday he will be in a position to convince Splaine he deserves the nod for more qualifiers. He admits, though, that booking his place in the April final in Leipzig, Germany, is not top of his wish list.

“If I was lucky to get points this weekend, I will pursue getting a few more shows and, if I qualified for the final, I would consider it, but it’s not really a priority. I’ll look at it then. It depends on Hallmark’s form. In saying that, last year was only his first season at the top and I think he will really come into himself this year.”

He says Tolett, who has served him well, is a “good second horse”, but he also says Vampire, now nine, was “promising” last year, the suggestion being we can expect more in 2011.

Intriguingly, he also mentioned he has a new horse, but declined to name it.

“I have another new Irish horse. He’s nine and I am looking forward to trying him out when I get home, but I don’t want to reveal his name yet.”

As for the other trio at Zurich this weekend, Billy Twomey is assured of qualification for Leipzig, standing in fifth place in the Western European League, while Kürten is in 11th and another good performance following her win in Mechelen will see her join the Corkman.

Like Lennon, though, Lynch has a mountain to climb to qualify, but in his case, it would be reckless to rule anything out.

Meanwhile, Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) yesterday declined to comment on Lynch’s statement last week, which basically outlined how he arrived at his decision to make himself unavailable for Irish team selection this year.

In doing so, Lynch is setting himself up to contravene HSI rules, notably that a rider selected for Ireland must have a valid reason for not lining out.

It could be argued, however, that aside from the pressure of a watching public, HSI has time on its hands, as Lynch’s declaration is unlikely to be tested soon, with, for example, the Meydan Nations Cup Series not due to start until May.

Expect HSI to work at a resolution beforehand, though.

lTHE new ShowjumpingIreland (SJI) chairman Christy Murphy is in no rush to get his message across.

The Kildare man yesterday declined to comment in detail on his vision for the association or the major issues it faces, explaining that he would prefer to “get his feet under the table” firstly.

You couldn’t argue with the logic, considering he was only elected to the position on Tuesday night at the first meeting of the national executive.

On Wednesday, however, he was optimistic about collaborating with Millstreet’s Noel C Duggan as part of his wish for an “all-inclusive” sport.

“I would love to work with Noel C Duggan. There are no difficulties, he did as he said he would do and has paid his levies. I look forward to a fruitful year and all-inclusive show jumping.”

Duggan proved Millstreet’s importance to the show jumping fraternity last year with a very successful ‘independent’ show that saw a large number of SJI members ignore the threat of sanction from their association. Nevertheless, many would hope a new regime will see the SJI and the Corkman join forces for the good of the sport.

Murphy has over 40 years involvement in equines and has been a member of the Leinster Region committee for 10 years. Seven of these saw him serve on the national executive, while he also held a seat on the influential management finance committee for five years. An SJI press released described him as a “passionate amateur competitor” and a “producer of young horses”.

Tuesday’s meeting also saw Ronan Corrigan finish as SJI chairman, but he will still play a prominent role as chairman of the management and finance committee. He will also continue to provide consultancy services, acting in the capacity of chief executive, until March.

The SJI’s new vice-chairman is Armagh’s James Kernan, replacing Waterford’s Joan Keane, while Dubliner Taylor Vard is the SJI’s nominee for the role of advisor to Ireland team manager Robert Splaine.

National Executive — Christopher Murphy (Chairman); Leinster: Charlie Murphy (Regional Chairman), Paddy Mullen, Ronan Corrigan, Taylor Vard, Maurice Cousins; Munster: Ivan McDonagh (Reg Chairman), Tomas Ryan, Pat Greene, James Tarrant, Anne Waistell; Ulster: Ray Buchanan (Reg Chairman), Janet Currie, James Kernan, Frances Monteith, Katy Saunders; Connacht: Liam Murphy (Reg Chairman), Charles Hanley, Tommy Dixon, Ray Halpin, Paul Duffy.

Management/Finance — Ronan Corrigan (Chairman); Leinster: Christy Murphy and plus another; Munster: Ivan McDonogh, Anne Waistell; Ulster: Ray Buchanan, James Kernan; Connacht: Ray Halpin, Sinead Hanley.

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