Ireland eventing manager Nick Turner conceded he “had to make a few difficult phonecalls in the last few days” as he finalised his squad for next month’s European Championships.
Briton Turner, who took over from Ginny Elliot in January, said, however, that those not among the six riders travelling to Malmo in Sweden are still in contention for next year’s World Equestrian Games (WEG), Ireland’s first chance to qualify a team for the 2016 Olympics.
The squad for the Europeans, which take place on Aug 29-Sept 1, includes just two of last year’s Olympians, Aoife Clark (Master Crusoe) and Joseph Murphy (Electric Cruise), whose show jumping clears elevated the team to fifth place. The remainder are Jonty Evans (Double Dutch), Elizabeth Power (September Bliss), Austin O’Connor (Ringwood Mississippi) and Sam Watson (Horseware Bushman). The reserve is Sarah Ennis (Sugar Brown Babe).
“Overall, I think it’s a strong squad. I have had great co-operation from the riders since I started in the role. I would like to thank them all and just as importantly the owners of all of the elite horses for their continued support,” said Turner.
“Obviously, I had to make a few difficult phone calls in the last few days, but we are working towards WEG next year and many of those who didn’t make it are very much in my plans for next year.”
Meanwhile, Irish show jumpers scored a hat-trick of grands prix victories at the weekend across the Atlantic.
In the US, Corkman Shane Sweetnam was in blistering form with Fineman a horse he only acquired last month, winning the $50,000 grand prix at the Kentucky Summer Horse Show. Third to go in a five-horse jump-off, the US-based Kanturk man had over two seconds to spare
In Quebec, Canada, Andrew Bourns and Richie Moloney achieved a grand prix double.
Galway rider Bourns was among only three to contest the timed round in the World Cup qualifier, riding Gatsby to a two-second win when last to go.
Saturday’s Modified Grand Prix proved a stern test, with Kilkenny man Moloney out on his own.
None of the 34-strong field mastered the course and four faults looked to be good enough to earn a place in the jump-off, until Moloney and Slieveanorra left all the fences upright, at a cost of one time penalty, to secure the win.
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