Horse Sport Ireland chairman Pat Wall said the Ireland managerial positions held by Robert Splaine in showjumping and Nick Turner in eventing will not be advertised until an Olympic review by Sport Ireland is completed.
He also agreed with the thrust of last week’s column that HSI should critically analyse Ireland’s Olympic equestrian performance and opined that lessons can be learned from other countries.
Referring to the positions held by by Splaine and Turner, Wall said: “Both high-performance coaches are recruited on the Olympic cycle and their contracts will soon expire. Sport Ireland will review the role of the high-performance coaches in the various sports and will decide what high-performance structures and funding, if any, they will allocate to them going forward and, until they make their decision, HSI will not be in a position to advertise the positions.”
The UCD professor said it was essential that Ireland was better positioned when lining out in Tokyo 2020 and that preparations should begin as soon as possible.
“I would agree that there should be critical analysis in a constructive manner of our Rio performance. As soon as the dust settles, we will review the performances in all three disciplines and see what changes we should make going forward to ensure that we are in a better position for the next Games. There are lessons to be learnt from those countries who outperformed us. More resources are a part of the solution but we need to start our preparations now rather than in four years time.”
A spokesman for Sport Ireland said “the review process commenced prior to the Rio Olympic Games and we hope to have this completed within the calendar year”.
“While performances at the Olympic Games and other major championships will be taken into consideration when determining future funding for individual sports, it will not be exclusively based on performances. There are other factors which will be taken into consideration, such the strength of the system, talent pipeline, etc.”
The spokesman said there was no compulsion on HSI to defer filling the managerial positions until the Sport Ireland review was completed.
“Sport Ireland understands why Horse Sport Ireland may wish to wait until the review is published before making an appointment, [but] this is a matter for them to decide.”
Wall summed up the performance in each discipline in Rio de Janeiro.
“After the dressage, we were very well positioned and I thought that this was to be our year. We always pride ourselves in our cross-country performances, however, things didn’t go as planned for the team and losing our first rider meant that the others had to be more cautious than they might have initially intended. Going into the show jumping phase we had too much to make up and Jonty [Evans] getting a top-10 finish saved face.
“The sport has become very competitive and to win an Olympic medal requires competencies in all three disciplines and we have work to do if we are going to move ourselves up another level.”
“Judy Reynolds did a wonderful job getting into the final and she is demonstrating that an Irish rider can compete with the best in dressage.
“The media coverage of her performances were fantastic and she is giving great encouragement to other Irish riders who aspire to compete at the highest level. Maybe more resources will have to be devoted to dressage in the future.”
“Greg Broderick was unlucky on day one to have an uncharacteristic two down and, on day two, Going Global gave an exhibition of jumping, but a toe in the water prevented him from progressing. The consensus is that the horse was well able to handle the big fences and was unfortunate not to get the opportunity to show what he can do in the final.
“The courses were tricky and many big names came unstuck. Greg and Going Global were not outclassed and there is a lot more to come from this partnership.
“The big tragedy in showjumping was that we did not have a team competing.”
Britain’s Harry Meade took an early lead in the CIC two-star competition at the start of the Millstreet International Horse Trials yesterday, but Carlow’s Sam Watson is hot on his heels.
Gloucestershire-based Meade and Vrolijk earned 41.80 penalties for their test, but Watson and Tullabeg Flamenco also impressed with a score of 42.50pens.
Forty-five of the 58-strong field completed their dressage yesterday, with another Briton, Sophie How, in provisional third, scoring 43.90pens on Kilcannon Watervalley Wizard.
Both the CCI three-star and CIC three-star commence today at an event that sees competitors vying for a prizefund of €45,000.
Cross-country action takes place today in the minor classes, but the main competitions feature on the superb grounds of Drishane Castle tomorrow. Event schedule: millstreet.horse/eventing
Irish riders are making an impact at the five-star show in Gijon, Spain, with Cian O’Connor and Aramis second in a 1.40m contest yesterday, followed by Dermott Lennon (Fleur IV) in third and Anthony Condon (Balzac). Billy Twomey was runner-up twice, aboard the nine-year-old gelding Thomas and also Ardcolum Duke, with Lennon and Fleur IV again in third place.
Manager Robert Splaine has named a squad that includes the above riders, plus Conor Swail and Michael Duffy, for tomorrow’s second-division nations cup.
Four of the horses to represent Ireland at next month’s World Breeding Federation Jumping Championships for Young Horses in Lanaken, Belgium, will be ridden by Mikey Pender, with Francis Connors and Darragh Ryan teaming up with three apiece.
In total, 15 horses, plus three reserves, were announced this week by Horse Sport Ireland, with chef d’equipe John Ledingham noting the enormity of the challenge, when saying “approximately 800 horses from over 37 nations will converge in Lanaken to compete for the nine medals on offer”.
The championship take place on September 15 to 18.
Z Seven Canya Dance (Michael Pender), ESI Star Struck (Darragh Ryan), Z Seven Caretina (Michael Pender), Boleybawn Actor (Darragh Ryan), Castlelawn Captain Junior (Shane Dalton); first reserve: Zilko (Linda Moloney).
Curra Clover Flight (Michael Pender), BP Castlefield (Francis Connors), Killossery Kaiden (Ger O’Neill), Ballypatrick Flamenco (Darragh Ryan), Rainstown Majestic (Michael Pender), first reserve: Intis (Tom Hearne).
Pembrook Milenia (Francis Connors), Primo Troy (Francis Connors), BMH Big Time (Tholm Keane), Loughnavatta Indigo (Gemma Phelan), ESI Carvalho (Peter Moloney), first reserve: Ard Golden Crisp (Conan Wright).
An exhibition match on Wednesday hosted by the newly-formed Ballindenisk Polo Club and an Irish Horse Gateway selection went the way of the former on a 8-3 scoreline. Alva Houlihan, co-founder of Ballindenisk Polo Club with Peter Fell, said: “We have 10 members, but we need more ponies for lessons. We’ve bought four and we’ve been loaned another four, and we’re very keen for people to come out as well. There isn’t a club currently in Cork and it’d be great to get it going. Anyone who’s interested, they should contact ballindenisk.org, and we’re on Facebook also. We’d love to get people involved.”
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