In-form Lynch looks to boost Olympic hopes

The Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) issues its latest Olympic rankings for individual riders today and the big question is the level of elevation achieved by Denis Lynch after he hit a rich vein of form with All Star 5 in January.

At last weekend’s World Cup show in Zurich, Lynch and Thomas Straumann’s stallion placed second in the World Cup class, having produced a similar result in Friday’s Longines Grand Prix.

The Tipperary rider also finished runner-up in the World Cup qualifier in Leipzig, Germany earlier in the month.

Yesterday, the FEI declined to give any details on the latest Olympic rankings, in which the top four riders and their specific mounts will earn a place for their country when the window closes on March 6.

Lynch will aim to further boost his Olympic ranking at the last World Cup qualifier in Bordeaux this weekend.

If he does achieve Olympic qualification, it could mean Ireland will have two show jumpers in Rio de Janeiro, as Bertram Allen is almost assured of one of the places on offer for riders topping specific groups, in Ireland’s case it is Olympic Group A.

However, interestingly, if Lynch’s success continues, there may be a slight possibility he could dethrone Allen — who is going through a relative lean period with Molly Malone V — from the top of Olympic Group A.

This could see Allen replacing Lynch in the battle for one of the four places on offer in the overall rankings.

Adding to the interest is that Allen is also at Bordeaux this weekend with Molly Malone V.

It is also worth remembering that, while it is the riders who win the Olympic place for their nation, it is Ireland manager Robert Splaine who nominated who will carry the colours in Rio de Janeiro.

Riders such as Conor Swail (Viva Colombia, Simba de la Roque) and Cian O’Connor (Good Luck) could also have valid claims if they show good form in the coming months.

Meanwhile, Lynch’s good run in January has put him on the cusp of qualifying for the World Cup final, having risen to 13th place in the Western European League, with 18 places on offer. However, last Sunday he made it clear that securing a place at the Olympics is his priority.

“Going to the [World Cup] final is not really my goal,” Lynch said after last Sunday’s second-place finish in Zurich.

“I’m trying to win another spot for Ireland at the Olympic Games. Bertram [Allen] looks like securing one place and I’m hoping to secure another one.”

It could be said that Lynch has something to prove in terms of the Games. In 2012, he was the original nomination for the London Olympics, but was dropped when Lantinus failed a hypersensitivity test in Aachen, Germany, and subsequently replaced by O’Connor, who went on to win a bronze medal.

It should be an interesting few weeks in the run-up to the March 6 deadline.

Irish draught horse breeders are being forced to go to the UK to have their horses inspected for approval, after Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) suspended inspections here.

The was the claim made in the Dáil last week, when John Perry TD tackled Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney, asking him if he was aware “Irish draught horse breeders are being forced to travel to the United Kingdom to have their draught mares and stallions inspected for approval to be included in the Irish draught studbook”.

HSI suspended the inspections for this spring while it conducted a review of the process. Mr Coveney pointed out HSI had invited submissions as part of the review, which he said was expected to be completed by the end of February.

“I am aware of the concern among certain stakeholders in relation to the decision to temporarily suspend inspections and, in that regard, my department has received assurances the review of the inspection regime will be expedited,” said Mr Coveney.

The Irish Draught Horse Breeders’ Association (IDHA) is advising breeders that spring stallion and mare inspections are taking place on March 23 and 24 at Warwickshire College under the British section of the IDHA. It is providing comprehensive advice on its Facebook page for anybody considering travelling to the UK.

Richie Moloney had the best start to week four of the $9m (€8m) Winter Equestrian Festival at Florida’s Palm Beach Equestrian Centre on Wednesday, winning a $35,000 (€31,200) speed class.

The Kilkenny native, aboard Alsvid, was 38th to go in a 59-strong field and his time of 60.07 seconds put him just under a fifth of a second faster than American Kristen Vanderveen on Eternal.

Corkman Shane Sweenam and Spy Coast Farm LLC’s Cyklon 1083 finished third in 60.88secs.

Alsvid, a 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding, proved a steady earner last year for Moloney, who was delighted to start 2016 with a win.

““This is his sixth FEI class to win since June, so he has been great, and he is 15 now,” said Moloney. “He is definitely in his prime and he is very good at that [1.45m] level. He is quick without having to try too hard.

Moloney and the large contingent of Irish riders in Florida will be aiming to make an impact in Sunday’s $216,000 (€192,500) Ariat Grand Prix.


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