Hurley new showjumping chairman

Corkman Tony Hurley was last night elected chairman of ShowjumpingIreland at the first meeting of the new executive.

It is the second time the position has been held by Mr Hurley, who defeated Connacht’s Liam Murphy in a vote.

Murphy, however, will chair the influential management and finance committee.

Hurley’s biggest challenge will be the escalating cost of SJI’s insurance, which saw its premium almost quadruple to over €600,000 as a result of two pending claims, forcing the organisation to raise membership fees and horse registrations by 25% for 2013.

“I am happy to take up the role of chairman, but I recognise there are challenges facing the SJI, in particular the insurance issue, which I hope we can resolve. Increasing the membership is another task I hope to achieve,” said Mr Hurley last night.

The SJI vice-chairman for 2013 is Ulster Region chairman Ray Buchanan.

Meanwhile show jumper Billy Twomey is hoping for a bright return to competition when he travels to the Sunshine Tour in Valencia, Spain, next week.

The Nottinghamshire-based Corkman, a stalwart of the Irish team for many years, had surgery in Germany in early November on a prolapsed disc and had planned a return to competition in the second week of last month, but surgeons intervened.

In his blog, however, he revealed he had taken part in a local show recently and his back felt “brilliant”.

“I have taken things very slowly, with the back being such a critical area, I wanted to ensure I was fully healed before getting back into competition and realising I was not quite ready.

“Now that I have tested everything [and it] is working properly and my back is pain free, I have decided I will jump the first leg of the Spanish Sunshine Tour in Valencia, from the 14th of February, certainly for the first three weeks and then see how I go,” he said.

“I am really keen to get back out competing again, as it feels like I have been away for a while now, I can’t wait to get going.”

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