Horse Sport Ireland lodges O’Connor appeal

Cian O'Connor on Good Luck. The pair were involved in a controversial incident at last month's EuropeanChampionships which resulted in Ireland being denied a place in next year's Rio Olympics.

Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) has lodged an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) regarding the debacle at last month’s European Championships that saw Cian O’Connor impeded in his round and Ireland denied a place in next year’s Olympics.

It comes after the Federation Equestre Internationale told HSI that, in line with its regulations, “it is of the view that an appeal in this case is not admissible”, an FEI spokesperson said yesterday.

Accordingly, HSI has lodged an appeal with CAS and it said it had set up an advisory committee that includes solicitor Philip O’Connor a former member of the FEI Tribunal. A spokesman said: “We have set up a legal advisory committee to help us with the case. The committee includes lawyers who are involved in the industry including Senior Counsel Martin Hayden, solicitor Joe Fitzpatrick and solicitor Philip O’Connor, who is a former member of the FEI tribunal.”

The FEI decision that an appeal was not admissible did not come as a surprise, but HSI chairman Pat Wall yesterday emphasised that HSI had to pursue this route before approaching CAS. 

“As a requirement, you have to engage with your international federation, in this case the FEI Tribunal,” said Wall yesterday. 

“However, the FEI decided the case didn’t fall within their jurisdiction. 

“As a result, we have submitted a request to CAS seeking an appeal. 

“We are hoping to hear from CAS soon. 

“The Olympics is all about fair play and that is all we are asking for.” 

As has been well documented, a member of the ground crew impeded Cian O’Connor and Good Luck at the European Championships in Aachen, Germany, with the Meath-based rider knocking the next fence. 

A protest to the ground jury failed, with the appeals committee then upholding the finding of the ground jury. 

The four faults that resulted when he knocked the fence in the second round of the nations cup saw Ireland lose out on a place in the Olympics, finishing just 0.38 penalties behind Spain.

A spokesperson for CAS was not in a position to comment yesterday, saying they had to undertake some “due diligence before going public” on cases. 

The possibility that the FEI Tribunal would not adjudicate on the case was highlighted in this column a fortnight ago, when it was noted that any appeal must satisfy the requirements of Article 165 of the FEI general rules, one pertinent example being that: “An appeal is not admissible... against Decisions of the Appeal Committee on Appeals arising from Decisions made by the Ground Jury.”

It would not be hyperbole to say that next week’s Ballindenisk International Horse Trials boasts a stellar line-up. 

You will see the legend that is Mark Todd, for example, he being the FEI Event Rider of the 20th Century and a two-time individual Olympic gold medalist, while he also helped New Zealand to team bronze at the London Games. 

Also lining out is Todd’s compatriot Blyth Tait, who contested four Olympics and won four medals, including gold. 

Ollie Townend returns to no doubt enhance his reputation, though locals could see it another way, as he has a habit of taking home much of the prizemoney. 

Event organizer Peter Fell said they were delighted that the event continues to be such an attraction. 

“We have over 80 foreign entries this year, which is up about 30 on last year. In fact, nearly half the entries are from overseas, with riders from 12 nations represented. 

“We have over 30 in the CCI three-star. It is the strongest CCI three-star we’ve ever had.

“It is Mark Todd’s his first time here and, naturally, as befitting his status, we will give him the usual legendary Ballindenisk welcome.

“Ollie Townend is coming with six horses, along with three students, one from Finland, another from Sweden and and English girl, who will all compete.

“We also have two Japanese riders, a first time for Ballindenisk, along with some Brazilians, while other big names include Tim Price and Izzy Taylor.”

Irish stars will be aiming to shine brightest, however, with the likes of Sarah Ennis, husband-and-wife team Michael and Patricia Ryan, and Sam Watson sure to be as competitive as ever in the feature class.

Dressage takes place next Thursday and Friday, with cross-country on Saturday and show jumping on Sunday.

Eoin McMahon and Talks Cheap jumped clear in the first qualifier for seven-year-old horses at the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses in Lanaken, Belgium, yesterday, leaving him 17th of the 208 starters

MHS Washington, sired by OBOS Quality, which stands at Kennedy Equine Centre in Kerry, lies third in the hands of Britain’s Laura Renwick.

There were clear rounds also for Ireland from Alexander Butler (Dekato), Alan O’Regan (Liberation) and Cormac Rafferty (KMR Benzini).

Greg Broderick and Breeders Classic winner Alberta Mist are ninth in the contest for six-year-olds, with clear rounds also coming from Sophie Richards (Vagabond de Kezeg), and Neal Fearon (FTS Elliot) in a competition that had 273 starters.

Of the five-year-old horses, Steven Smith has two (Darkness Z and Fleetwood W) on a zero score, along with Shane Breen (Colmar), Gemma Phelan (Rvs Lui Fortunas), Eddie Moloney (Cruicerath Flexianna) and Cormac Rafferty (KMR Twilight).


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