Equestrian: Big guns back in action for German showpiece

The annual German equestrian festival at Aachen takes centre stage this week with Ireland contesting the showjumping nations cup and dressage rider Judy Reynolds making a long-awaited return to action with her Olympic horse Vancouver K.

Equestrian: Big guns back in action for German showpiece

The annual German equestrian festival at Aachen takes centre stage this week with Ireland contesting the showjumping nations cup and dressage rider Judy Reynolds making a long-awaited return to action with her Olympic horse Vancouver K, writes Mike Dunne

Sunday’s second placing in the Swedish nations cup at Falsterbo has taken some pressure off Rodrigo Pessoa’s Irish showjumping team. With two more league fixtures to come (Hickstead and Dublin), the 90 points earned for that latest outing almost certainly secures Ireland’s place in the top nations cup division for next season and puts them in a good position to qualifying for the final in October.

The outing at Aachen is not a league fixture but it is one of the world’s most coveted contests and the Irish manager has named a strong squad. It includes the European gold-medalist pairings of Cian O’Connor and Good Luck and Shane Sweetnam with Chaqui Z. It will be O’Connor’s first team outing with Good Luck since the clinching round at the Europeans in Gothenburg last August.

“He’s in great form,” O’Connor told the Irish Examiner yesterday after the pairing had a conservative clear in the week’s first event.

He feels really well — he’s always good in this arena.

Good Luck’s lengthy absence from the team was deliberate on O’Connor’s part in order to have him right for the heavier part of the season with the world championships in North Carolina now barely two months away.

“You can’t really peak in January and again in April and June. My plan was to try and have the horse good here, and then we have time to see how much competition he needs to the world championships,” the Meath rider said.

The world championships is where we really need to shine as a team and it’s been my goal to keep Good Luck in the best form for there.

It was for a different reason that Kildare rider Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K have had such a lengthy absence. Their last appearance was at this meeting a year ago when they were in top form and looking likely to be big challengers at the European Championships a month later. The pairing had top-seven finishes in all three Aachen classes last time, two of them top five (Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special) and Reynolds had planned to head straight to the Europeans until an out of competition injury to Vancouver K sidelined their plans. Despite hopes of an earlier comeback it has taken a full year.

The individual dressage at Aachen may not be the battle royale it could have been. The world No 1 combination of Isabel Werth and Wiehegold OLD will not be in action, the German selectors opting for her to ride her world No 3 mount Emilio in the team event and Bella Rose in the individuals. Nor will the world’s fifth-ranked pairing of Sönke Rothenberger and Cosmo, the German deciding not to risk his mount after a recent infection. That leaves USA’s Laura Graves and Verdades, the world No 2 pairing, as the highest-ranked in action this week.

The 2018 Rolex Central Park Horse Show in New York has been cancelled, it was announced on Monday. This was to be the fifth staging of the show which is held at Central Park’s Wollman Rink and was due to take place from September 26-30. A statement issued by the organisers, International Equestrian Group, said that running the meeting only a week after the world championships and simultaneously with the American Gold Cup as well as a week before the FEI Nations Cup Final was “not conducive to our competitors’ schedules or for their horses’ welfare”.

On a positive note, the New York event will elevate from three-star to five-star status next year.

The Stena Line Dublin Horse Show will be officially launched today at the RDS. The meeting takes place from August 8-12, with the Longines FEI Nations Cup competition for the Aga Khan Trophy being held on Friday 10. USA will be looking to retain the trophy, with Ireland, France, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, and Switzerland among those competing. Ireland last won the trophy in 2015.

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