At the outset of the indoor season, Lynch had set himself a target of qualifying early for April’s final in ’s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, having left it until the last round to book his place in the 2011 showcase. Yesterday’s performance guarantees he has achieved his goal.
Lynch was among eight riders to progress to the jump-off from a starting line-up of 38 that saw 15 nations represented.
Fourth to go, he knew he had a difficult task to catch pathfinder Gregory Wathelet, who on home turf had stopped the clock in 36.69 seconds with the nine-year-old Darco stallion Copin van de Broy.
While Lynch again left all the fences standing, the gigantic bay gelding Abbervail van het Dingeshof did not possess the pace to challenge the lead, crossing the line in 38.10 seconds.
The German-based Tipperary rider was one of three Irish riders in the contest, but Jessica Kürten, riding the nine-year-old brown gelding Vincente, was among 15 riders who four-faulted in round one, while fellow Northerner Trevor Coyle and the 14-year-old bay mare Jubilee d’Ouilly exited on eight faults.
The victory was another big step for Wathelet, who switched nationality and spent years competing for the Ukraine, but in 2008 renewed Belgian citizenship and had to wait two years to get back in his national team.
“I jumped my first nations cup for Belgium again in 2010, and I’m very happy to win here today in front of my home crowd. That’s always very special” he said.
Meanwhile, Ireland eventing high performance manager Ginny Elliot has named a provisional squad of 12 riders and 14 horses that will participate in a training programme in January and February, commencing over two days next weekend.
“We will start with two weekends of pure dressage with Ferdi Eilberg and then a number of weekends of dressage with Ferdi and show jumping with Ian Fearon. The training is taking place in the Army Equitation School and I want to thank them for making the facilities available. We will also be using the South Leinster region combined training competitions in Coilog in February,” she said.
“The squad is very much open-ended and there are other combinations who could come into contention if they perform well early in the season,” she said.
Having narrowly failed to qualify a team for the Olympics at this year’s European Championships and last year’s World Equestrian Games, Ireland is aiming to line out a team through the individual rankings and currently has four riders well placed.
However, a number of new events have been added to the FEI calendar in February, including in Ballindenisk, Co Cork, before the cut off at the end of that month and this has made things more uncertain. As such, Elliot issued a rallying call.
“The reality is that our riders will have to compete in Ballindenisk to try and secure places. It is not ideal, but I think it’s manageable and we need all the riders to put their shoulder to the wheel in order to give us the best chance of qualifying a full team,” Elliot said.
The provisional squad is: Aoife Clark: Master Crusoe (ISH) and Vaguely North; Capt Geoff Curran: Shanaclough Crecora (ISH); Capt Brian Curran-Cournane: Ballintogher (ISH); Jayne Doherty: The Only One (ISH) and Ravenstar; Ciaran Glynn: Don’t Tell Punch (ISH); Mark Kyle: Coolio (ISH); Joseph Murphy: Electric Cruise (ISH); Liz Power: September Bliss; Michael Ryan: Ballylynch Adventure (ISH); Sue Shortt: Imperative (ISH); Camilla Speirs: Portersize Just a Jiff (ISH); Sam Watson: Ballybolger Bushman (ISH).