JOHN TYNAN: First blood to Coyle at Millstreet, and maybe more to come

Jordan Coyle was made to sweat at a sunny Millstreet International Horse Show yesterday, as he watched his rivals try their utmost to unseat him from the top of the leaderboard in the second international class.

It was close in the end, with the Derry native retaining first place by seven-hundredths of a second following a power-house performance on the diminutive Amigo vh Winkenshof Z, with Britain’s Beth Vernon on Omane des Faux his main challenger, followed by Ireland’s Angela Percy on Westland Ruby.

Coyle said he had reason to be nervous as Vernon and Percy gave it their all, though Jim Maneely’s nine-year-old bay gelding has provided him with a number of wins this year, including the Munster Grand Prix at Cork Summer Show last month.

“He’s an amazing horse. It was close at the end. I was panicking. I like to win, as much as he does. I don’t like to get beat, especially when he tries as hard as he does,” said Coyle of his 15hh mount, describing him as “a small horse with a big heart”.

Coyle has travelled south with 16 animals and he has high hopes of taking more rosettes. “I’ve three horses qualified for the Boomerang final. One of them is the best horse that I’ve ever rode. He’s called Essenar Crixus and is a six-year-old. I would like to think that I’ve a good chance of winning something else this week.”

The British contingent scored first blood earlier, filling the top two places in the opening international competition.

Louise Saywell had a facile win, crossing the finish line on Mr Darcy almost four-and-a-half second faster than her compatriot Holly Smith on Lammy Beach. Sophie Dalm flew the Irish flag in third place on Remake Lande with the only other clear round in a contest of 31 starters. Damien Griffin and Tabby were the best of the four-faulters.

Competition continues today - with the show attracting more than 7,000 entries - and culminates with Sunday’s grand prix. Clipmyhorse.tv is providing live coverage of the main competitions on the internet.

  • Jonty Evans and Cooley Rorkes Drift were the clear-cut positive story from an Irish eventing perspective at the Olympics this week, as the team finished a disappointing eighth. The 44-year-old placed ninth individually after producing a jumping clear in the cross-country and following up with one of only four double clears in the show jumping.

Evans, Padraig McCarthy (Simon Porloe), Clare Abbott (Euro Prince), and Mark Kyle (Jemilla) got off to a superb start when fifth after dressage, but were forced to battle after pathfinder McCarthy was unfortunate to find himself one of the 16 eliminated on an unforgiving cross-country.

While the performance did not live up to expectations, Evans was fulsome in his praise of Ireland manager Nick Turner.

“He is positive, supportive, organised, and he has untold belief in our squad of riders, both here in Rio and the other riders back home,” said Evans of his fellow Briton. “He has employed a team of coaches and support staff that all believe in the squad too. They have all done a great job of improving technical standards. He is also working incredibly hard to put in place systems that encourage talent and ability to flourish within the squad. He has achieved a great deal and I sincerely hope that he is able to push those systems and ideas forward to encourage fresh young talent and support old buggers like me! He deserves unanimous support.”

Evans also vowed to bring home a championship medal in the future. “I’m delighted with the horse, I always felt he had this in him, but to prove it is something else entirely... I can’t wait for the next championship with this horse. I believe we can bring a medal back.”

  • It’s difficult to understand the workings of Horse Sport Ireland at times. This week, they issued a press release to say Ireland’s Olympic eventers were in eighth place after the cross-country. This columnist queried this, as the leaderboard on Monday evening showed Ireland were in ninth place. There was no direct response from HSI, nor a correction from HSI and, for example, an early-morning bulletin on RTÉ Radio on Wednesday said Ireland were in eighth place.

At 9.19am, however, HSI issued a ‘leaderboard update’ saying that: “Following an appeal to the ground jury in the early hours of this morning after originally being assessed as missing a flag at the final water complex during Monday’s cross-country, Brazilian rider Marcio Carvalho Jorge has had his score reinstated with his horse Lissy Mac Wayer. This means Brazil move up the team standings to sixth and Ireland drop one place to ninth.”

All fine, you would think.

However, according to the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) “there was no appeal”, let alone one in the “early hours” of the morning.

The FEI said the ground jury had examined footage and had revised Jorge’s result, but this had taken place promptly after the cross-country had finished.

HSI responded yesterday, saying “we have a number of sources on the ground out there that we are utilising for our information”, but it did not say where it had received the information regarding the early-morning appeal.

  • Ballindenisk, the spiritual home of Irish eventing, is taking a detour down the polo route and will stage its first competition on Wednesday, August 24, beginning at 7pm.

Ballindenisk Polo Club, which was formed this year, will face Curraghmore Polo Club, which is based on the estate of Lord Waterford, where the sport has been played for 30 years.

Refreshments and food will be on offer for the public, who are offered free entry.

  • The equestrian centre in Rio is proving a ballistics hot-spot after two bullets were found on different days. The second bullet was found close to the stables on Wednesday. The discovery came after a rifle round penetrated the equestrian media tent on Saturday, with the defence minister saying it had been fired from a favela at a police blimp.

It was originally thought the bullet had come from a nearby military base.

  • Paul Beecher steered Danqu to victory in the Connolly’s Red Mills Munster Grand Prix League grand prix at Maryville EC, Co Cork, last weekend, closing the gap on league leader Francis Connors.

The latter, however, ensured his rival stole the minimum advantage, by placing second on Capitol Cruis. Just three-quarters of a second separated the Waterford pair in the jump-off, with Connors also claiming third aboard Uskerty Diamond Lady.

The league table shows Connors and Capitol Cruis tops on 60 points, while he also holds second place on 52 points with Uskerty Diamond Lady on 52 points. Beecher and Danqu are third with 49 points and also holds fourth place with Loughnatousa Eric on 45 points.

  • Tallow Gymkhana will be held next Thursday at Loughnatousa, with the main event being the €2,000 Munster Grand Prix. It also features an amateur class and a range of pony competitions. Further details: 087-2455781or 087-6687549.

Here’s a little extra sport. Watch the latest BallTalk for the best sports chat and analysis:

Which teams are relegation candidates this season?


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