Lennon hopeful of good showing in Geneva

Dermott Lennon is paying a high price for being in Geneva, Switzerland, this weekend... missing out on his children’s nativity play.

As such, he is hoping to gain suitable compensation at the fixture voted five times as the best indoor show in the world. He won’t be short of opportunity, with tonight’s Credit Suisse Grand Prix and Sunday’s third leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, the feature classes in a schedule that offers almost €1.25m in prizemoney.

“My kids are at a nativity play back home and I’ll miss it. I’ll just have to watch it on the video. I suppose if I was at home, I’d be yearning to be here,” joked the Co Down man.

Lennon has form at the Swiss fixture, placing fifth in the World Cup finals three years ago with Woods Rosbotham’s Hallmark Elite, producing one of only three double clears on the final day. The former world champion was also in the frame yesterday with the 13-year-old gelding, placing third in a two-phase class.

“Hallmark Elite is in good form,” said Lennon, as he watched France’s Patrice Delaveau displace him from second place. “He’s been jumping well, and was third in the big Saturday class last week in Opglabbeek, in Belgium, but it’s difficult to get warmed up for this level,” said the Banbridge native, echoing Billy Twomey’s recent comments in this column concerning the problems of getting access to premium shows.

Lennon targets the bigger classes this weekend with Loughview Lou Lou.

“My first goal is to qualify for Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix. I believe I have a fighting chance. For me, it’s not about competing against the other riders, just competing against the course and I intend to give it a lash,” said Lennon, though he subsequently disappointed, with the mare putting up 16 faults in last night’s Geneva Classic.

Long-term, he is building his hopes on the offspring of his world championship winning mare Liscalgot.

“Calgot Pleasure is an eight-year-old mare out of Liscalgot, and she’s jumping really well. She is by For Pleasure, but is showing a lot of the characteristics of the mother and I think she has a bright future.”

Also carrying Irish hopes in Geneva is Cameron Hanley. The Mayo rider placed eighth in the grand prix at the five-star show in Paris last weekend and gave the 10-year-old gelding Antello Z a run-out in yesterday’s two-phase class, jumping clear, but picking up a single time fault.

- A petition has been started urging Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to address the horse welfare crisis.

It comes as another horrific case saw a mare put down after reportedly being beaten by a group of men in Wicklow town. A picture this week showed the mare’s distressed foal pawing at her body.

The petition was set up on change.org — described as the world’s largest petition platform — by Judith Richter in Derby, UK, and, as of last night, had over 7,700 signatories.

The petition urges Mr Coveney to “STOP fly grazing, abandonment and mistreatment of horses and make ALL owners accountable by improving the Horse Passport scheme”.

Curiously, though, it also urges Mr Coveney to address the equine crisis in the UK and many of the signatories are from our neighbour, along with some from Germany, Spain, the US, more than a few from Belgium and the Netherlands, and at least one from Egypt and South Africa, all referring to the horrific death of the horse in Wicklow.

It is believed she refused to exit a horsebox on Sunday in Ballyguile, Wicklow town, and, when the vehicle was driven forward at speed, she tumbled out and broke her legs. The men then reportedly kicked her in a bid to get her to stand.

Gardaí are investigating the incident, and also a previous case in Tallaght, Dublin, where it was claimed a horse was set alight while alive.

Yesterday, in a statement, Mr Coveney expressed his “shock and disgust at recent reports of horse cruelty”.

“The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, in conjunction with the local authorities and the Gardaí, is adopting a pro-active approach in relation to welfare issues in the horse sector and this has reduced the numbers of abandoned horses throughout the country, particularly in urban areas.

“In recent weeks, 82 horses were seized in the Cork city area. While a small number of the horses had to be euthanised on welfare grounds, some 36 are being re-homed with the assistance of welfare groups and the remainder were required to be correctly identified prior to being returned to their owners,” said Mr Coveney, while noting a similar operation had taken place in Co Wicklow.

He also pointed out that, to date this year, the department had paid some €2.5m to the local authorities to enable them to deal with stray and unwanted horses. A total of 3,488 horses have been seized, with 20% of these animals reclaimed or re-homed.

In addition, €1.36m was given to some 140 animal welfare organisations this year to “assist them in the delivery of animal care and welfare services”.

Mr Coveney urged the public to continue to avail of his department’s Animal Welfare Helpline, to report instances where animal welfare may be compromised: 1850 211 990.

- The Association of Irish Riding Clubs has announced its nominees for the seventh Lancelot Awards.

The awards recognise the efforts of volunteers “who perform their duties with the utmost of diligence, while organising or helping at club, regional or national events”, the AIRC said.

There are four categories of awards and the voting process sees a jury decide 50% of the vote, with the other 50% by the clubs.

AIRC chairman Tony Ennis said: “The contribution our volunteers make each year is priceless and our Lancelot Awards is our way of recognising their efforts.

“It was a difficult task for the executive committee to try and produce this year’s short list, as there were so many worthy candidates. I would like to wish them all the very best of luck during the voting process.”

The results will be announced at the AGM next year.

Club of the Year: Barrow Valley, Border Counties, Clonshire, Tynagh.

Club Secretary of the Year: Jeanine Curtis (Castle Hill), Anne Little (Arderin), Christine McWilliams (Corrib), and Tracey Rooney (Carne).

Club Member of the Year: Caroline Bellew (Border Counties), Thomas Daniels (Tynagh), Sarah Jane Doyle (Three Rocks), and Shellie Murtagh (Clonlara).

Person of the Year: Geraldine Bellew (Border Counties), Patricia Buckley (Calliaghstown), Paul Hughes (Tonabrockey), and Mary O’Sullivan (Clonshire).


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