Development of equestrian facilities at Abbotstown welcomed

Equestrian facilities are to be developed at the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown, Dublin, Horse Sport Ireland has confirmed.

It is believed the funding for the development is coming primarily from the National Sports Campus Development Authority.

A HSI spokesman yesterday said it was “at an advanced stage of discussions” with the authority regarding the construction of facilities, which will include an outdoor equestrian arena and stabling. It is envisaged the facility will be used for HSI high-performance training of equestrian teams, as well as training in all of the modern pentathlon disciplines.

While McKee Barracks proved adequate when it hosted a pre-Olympic programme this year, in a statement, the HSI spokesman said equestrian sport warranted a presence at the campus. “This is an opportunity for equestrian sport to be part of what is a huge and exciting development of a national campus for all sports in Ireland. The FAI, the GAA, the IRFU, Irish Hockey, Swim Ireland and others will all have facilities there and it is appropriate that equestrian sport and modern pentathlon would have facilities there also.”

Further details are expected to be announced by Sports Minister Leo Varadkar next Wednesday.

Meanwhile, HSI will shortly seek expressions of interest from people looking to sell Irish horses abroad, as it devises a system aimed at assisting foreign buyers in their search for a suitable Irish horse.

HSI stressed the system will have to be fully transparent and fair to all potential sellers to ensure traffic is not directed down the same routes every time. Sellers will be expected to sign up to a code of conduct.

The urgent need for an effort to help breeders/producers is highlighted by the fact next Sunday’s West Cork Horse Breeders sale has been cancelled, with the organisers citing a dearth of buyers.

WCHB treasurer Tim Holland said: “The supply of horses is there, but the buyers are absent. Also, buyers are seeking a made horse. It is going to be a difficult winter for breeders, with costs rocketing and the price of foals not even covering their fee in most cases.”

lIreland’s dominance of the eventing studbook rankings came to an end in 2010 after 16 years, but now it’s back in its rightful place led by the gelding Mr Medicott, who took first place in the individual rankings.

The World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses table shows the Irish eventing studbook on 1,427 points, more than 100 ahead of the Hannovarian, with the Holstein 355 points adrift.

Ireland had claimed ownership of the title since the inception of the rankings in 1994, but in 2010 the Hannovarian studbook took over and, in 2011, when Ireland slipped to third place behind the Selle Francais and Hannovarians, it looked ominous.

However, the Cruising-sired Mr Medicott (364pts) has restored Ireland to the top, along with Imperial Cavalier (Cavalier) in fifth place, Sugar Brown Babe (Porsch) in 26th, The Jump Jet (Cavalier) three places further back, Trading Aces (Coevers Diamond Boy) in 33rd and Ballynoe Castle RM (Ramiro B) in 39th.

It is interesting to note the strong warmblood presence and also that none of this year’s Irish flag carriers were involved in the studbook’s top six last year.

Mr Medicott, is ridden by US event rider Karen O’Connor, and was bred by Dr Donal Geaney in Castleisland, Co Kerry. He is out of Slieveluachra (ISH) by the thoroughbred Edmund Burke.

HSI chairman Joe Walsh described it as “a welcome development” that two of the horses, Sugar Brown Babe and The Jump Jet, were ridden by Irish riders, Sarah Ennis and Capt Geoff Curran, respectively.

The rankings were published as 28 Irish sport horses headed to Le Lion d’Angers, France, for this weekend’s World Breeding Championships for Young Eventing Horses, with 14 competed by Irish riders.

There was also good news for Irish show jumping, with the studbook rising to eighth place, having fallen to 11th in 2008. HSI’s& Alison Corbally said: “The studbook has made significant process since 2008, when only one Irish Sport Horse was in the top 200 places of the WBFSH show jumping rankings; this year 10 Irish sport horses appear in the top 200.”

Coincidentally, it is another Cruising horse ridden by an American in the vanguard, Flexible and Rich Fellers, placing sixth.

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