Doha dosh the perfect incentive

WITH €475,000 on offer in tomorrow night’s Global Champions Tour opener in Doha, riders will not be lacking in incentive.

Denis Lynch is among four Irish competitors at the event and, while always on the lookout to augment his earnings, he was unwilling to throw any hostages to fortune yesterday, particularly as the super-horse Lantinus did not travel to Qatar.

“Of course, I’ll be trying, but it won’t be easy. I’ve All Inclusive and Nabab’s Son with me and it’s their first outdoor show... but the same criteria apply to everybody else too. I suppose, as the days progress, I’ll have a better idea of how the horses are settling in, but both are very experienced.”

Apart from Jessica Kürten (Lektor 35, Harley) and Italian-based Mark McAuley (Kerball, Loriot), Lynch will be up against world number seven, Billy Twomey (Je t’Aime Flamenco and Tackeray) in a high-class field.

“The prizemoney means everyone will be trying. Most of the best riders are here, so who knows how it will pan out,” said Lynch.

The Tipperary rider will also continue his money-raising efforts for horse welfare in Ireland.

* SHOWJUMINGIRELAND’S (SJI) national executive this week rubber-stamped the proposal by its management and finance committee to reduce its contribution for international affairs to €100,000 this year.

This amounts to a cut of 60% on last year’s payment of €250,000, a move that is destined to have a serious impact and provide a headache for Horse Sport Ireland in its bid to manage international participation in the run-up to the London Olympics.

The areas affected will be seniors, juniors, young riders, ponies and children on horses. HSI has three avenues it can go down to save money: Participation in fewer shows, provide less money towards travel costs for riders who compete at shows, and/or a reduction in performance bonuses (riders who jump a clear round in a Meydan Series nations cup competition receive a €2,000 bonus, while a double clear earns €5,000).

Outrageous as it may seem, the viability of competing in the Meydan Series is being questioned by HSI, particularly with the dearth of top-class horses and the imperative of maximising Ireland’s chances of qualifying for the London 2012 Olympics at September’s European Championships in Madrid, Spain. However, considering the importance of Meydan, pulling out is an unlikely scenario. SJI’s management and finance committee chairman Ronan Corrigan said, with reduced income, international affairs was one of many areas where cutbacks had been made.

“We looked at the possibility of reallocating money from administration to international affairs, but this was not possible. SJI has already hacked away at its core activities for the past three years to ensure we are as streamlined as possible. Our administration costs are down approximately 20%. We are pared to the bone.

It was inevitable SJI would have to make a reduction. We regret this and are conscious it will have an impact, but we are confident HSI will be able to run international affairs on the reduced sum.”

lIRISH equestrian sport lost an icon last Friday with the passing of Iris Kellett at the age of 85. Aside from being an inspirational, world-class rider, it could be argued her biggest influence, including beyond these shores, was as an instructor, firstly at her father’s school in Mespil Road, Dublin, and latterly in Kill.

In Michael Slavin’s superb book Showjumping Legends, he recalls how, when aged nine, Iris walked her pony Little Sparklet to the Dublin Horse Show, where she was awarded a prize as best girl rider. It was the start of a glittering career, that saw her as a 22-year-old win the 1948 grand prix in Dublin with Rusty, a horse that, during the early years of World War II, ploughed fields six days a week and was hunted on Sunday. She was the first woman to win the competition.

The following year, she won the Princess Elizabeth Cup at White City, London, finished second the following year, before returning to the top in 1951. However, a few years later, in an horrific fall she broke her lower leg. Tetanus followed and it was not until the 1960s that she returned to full form and victory in the 1969 Championship of Europe.

Some of the Irish riders to benefit from her expertise were Eddie Macken, Paul Darragh, Peter Charles, Jack and Edward Doyle and Kevin Babington. She judged, lectured and demonstrated her skills in many countries.

She also served as a director of Bord na gCapall and was a major advisor on the development of equestrian science as a degree subject at the University of Limerick. In 1997 was inducted into the Texaco Sports Hall of Fame, a fitting tribute to a sporting legend.

* SHOWJUMPINGIRELAND (SJI) has been contacted by a Cork City Council engineer seeking advice on the possibility of developing an equestrian centre on the reclaimed Kinsale Roundabout landfill site in the city.

“We assisted in whatever way we could in providing information and contacts to organisations that could be of assistance to them,” said chairman of the SJI’s management and finance committee Ronan Corrigan.

However, the council’s communications liaison officer for the environmental directorate, Michael Sheehan, stressed equestrian activities are among a number of sports the council is investigating for the site.

“The landfill site is undergoing decommissioning, which involves capping the 75 hectares, ie planting it with grass and earth, plus engineering works. This will take up to two years,” said Mr Sheehan.

“Basically, we are looking at creating a recreation area, giving it back to the community. As part of that, we have approached a number of sporting organisations with a view to developing a masterplan for the site. We are gathering all the information required to ascertain what sporting activities could be facilitated at the site.

“This is all in its infancy and all will be subject to planning requirements and funding and council approval.”

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