Autumn show jumping leagues under threat

AUTUMN show jumping leagues could be under threat amid doubts over the standard of insurance cover provided by ShowjumpingIreland (SJI), Ballyrafter proprietor Anne Waistell claimed yesterday.

The Lismore woman is the chairperson of the Irish Show Jumping Centres Group (ISJCG), which was formed at a meeting of venue owners called on Wednesday night in Athlone to discuss their concern that the SJI insurance does not provide adequate cover.

“We don’t know if the SJI insurance will fully indemnify us if we are running an SJI show and we are all scared now,” said Waistell. “It is vital that this be sorted out, as it is compulsory that anyone running an SJI show has to use SJI insurance. Unless this is clarified, there is doubt surrounding some autumn leagues, as we do not have confidence in the present insurance offered by the SJI. Basically, we need to see what is covered by the SJI,” said Waistell, who has been staging show jumping at Ballyrafter for 37 years.

She described Wednesday’s meeting as “positive” but regretted that the SJI was not officially represented. “Unfortunately, there was no official representative for the SJI at the meeting. The SJI chairman Ronan Corrigan was invited, but did not attend, which was disappointing. I asked if there was a representative of the SJI present and there was no response. There was a member of the SJI executive at the meeting, but he was there in a personal capacity.”

Last week in this column, SJI chairman Ronan Corrigan said commercial centres required their own public liability insurance to cover for “unforeseen eventualities”.

However, Waistell yesterday countered: “We previously understood that the SJI insurance for our centre was no different from that applied to a one-off show held annually through the generosity of a landowner. I, personally, was never told that we should have our own insurance in place for SJI shows. We never understood that there were two categories and our experience is replicated across the country.”

Aside from Waistell, other ISJCG working committee members are: Secretary Emer Buckley, treasurer Patricia Collins, Robert Fagan (Mullingar EC), Stewart Clarke (Cavan EC), Ralph Conroy (Milchem EC), Thomas Duggan (Green Glens, Millstreet), Tomás Ryan (Tipperary EC), Wayne Santry (West Cork EC) and Alan Molan (Maryville EC).

Waistell said it was a matter of urgency that the SJI demonstrate categorically that its insurance is of sufficient level to assuage the concerns of centre owners.

“We are writing to the SJI asking that it upgrade its insurance so that it can issue a letter of indemnification to all land owners and commercial centres. We intend sending it today, as this issue is of the utmost importance and needs to be addressed immediately. The same insurance should apply to any venue holding an SJI show,” she said, adding: “We are urging the SJI to nominate a representative to meet us, along with its insurance broker.”

She also stressed the new group was a positive development.

“It is long overdue and we will be inviting every centre that runs show jumping shows to join our group. We have come together to look after our own interests and livelihood. That is the only purpose of the group. We do not want conflict with the SJI.”

SJI chairman Ronan Corrigan yesterday explained that the SJI members were at the group’s inaugural meeting, but did not disclose their membership.

“The organisers of Wednesday’s meeting were informed there would be somebody there from the SJI to take down questions if necessary and to relay them back to the SJI and there were a number of members of the association there. They did not make their identity known, as they were not there to answer questions. Also, I had made it clear that I, personally, would not be able to attend,” said Corrigan.

“I stress, however, the SJI and its brokers are always ready to meet venue owners, show organisers, anybody, in fact, to answer any queries and we will be again contacting venue owners directly. We will meet in such a manner that there is no chance that what we say is misconstrued. Clarity is vital.

“Also, I have no issue in meeting Anne Waistell.”

As regards the letters of sanction for SJI members who attended the recent “independent” show in Millstreet, Corrigan said: “I expect some of the letters of sanction will go out next week, following Tuesday’s meeting of the executive. All the letters are ready to go, it is just a matter of getting the go ahead from the executive.

“Also, the course designers committee and the judges committee have met and made their recommendations as to what action is to be taken against officials that come under their remit. These recommendations will be considered by the executive.”

- CIAN O’CONNOR is not normally reticent when it comes to engaging with the media.

This week, however, was different, as another engagement was the topic; the Meath-based show jumper and his girlfriend Ruth Maybin are getting married. Apart from the fact she’s from Ballymena, Co Antrim, and a “lovely girl”, O’Connor would say no more.

Instead, as he prepared for today’s nations cup in Gijon, Spain, he proffered his thoughts on the Spanish event and the probability of an Irish success at the Alltech World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.

“It’s nice to go to a show like Gijon and let the horses breathe and without too much pressure. It is ideal to keep them ticking over, though in saying that, the courses are good and technical,” said O’Connor, who rides Splendor in today’s competition and is joined by Shane Breen (Carmena Z), Capt David O’Brien (Mo Chroí) and anchorman Dermott Lennon (Hallmark Elite).

O’Connor, Denis Lynch and Billy Twomey have been selected by manager Robert Splaine for WEG, but Lennon, for example, and other riders are bidding to fill the remaining two places, while Jessica Kürten’s mount Castle Forbes Libertina is recovering from an injury.

O’Connor said you could not discount Ireland’s chances at WEG, in which the show jumping begins on October 4.

“The pressure will be on in the championships, but you are always optimistic. If we can arrive at Kentucky with four sound horses and in the same frame of mind as in Aachen, where we won, we are in with a shout.

“Conrad Homfeld is the course builder at WEG and his courses are difficult. Each course builder has a signature and he uses right angles to triple combinations and he makes the time very short. These are things we will be practising here in Gijon,” said O’Connor, who added that if he and his teammates fail in their objective at Kentucky “it won’t be for the want of trying”.

- CAPTAIN Geoff Curran steered The Jump Jet to fifth place on day one of dressage at Burghley yesterday. The Army officer was marked at 48.8 penalties, four penalties behind overnight leader Mary King on Apache Sauce.

Sarah Wardell and Kincluny were placed 32nd yesterday, scoring 66.2pens. Wardell goes again today with Killeenduff Boy, while Louise Lyons (Murphy’s Miracle) and Elizabeth Power (Kilpatrick River) are also at the British four-star event.


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