Splaine goes with the tried and tested

AN Italian job is not beyond the bounds of possibility in the second leg of the FEI Nations Cup League next week, according to Ireland show jumping manager Robert Splaine, who has nominated the same quartet that won last weekend’s French Nations Cup in his Rome squad.

The Corkman is not one for hyperbole, but you would forgive him in the circumstances. Giving further credence to Splaine’s opinion, is that Billy Twomey will travel to the Italian fixture with the talented Tinka’s Serenade, linking up again with fellow La Baule winners Cian O’Connor (Larkhill Cruiser or Splendor), Cameron Hanley (Southwind VDL), and Shane Sweetnam (Amaretto Darco), while the five-man squad for Rome sees Shane Carey replaced by Shane Breen and Camblin.

“To make lofty predictions at this level would be foolish, but such a team has proved it is capable of winning,” said Splaine yesterday. “Of course, it’s a very tough league, as demonstrated in La Baule, where the result was very tight. Even to finish with a reasonable score is a high achievement,” said Splaine yesterday.

Splaine has previously said the FEI Nations Cup League would be secondary to achieving Olympic qualification in September’s European Championships in Madrid. He said yesterday, though, that the French victory would not mean they would take their foot off the pedal.

“My ambition is to develop new combinations to help us in our cause and to programme our championships horses. The Nations Cup League is the best means to do this, being the closest you can get to championships level and whether we were first or last in La Baule, would have not caused me to alter my strategy in relation to either the Nations Cup League or the European Championships.

“As for the horses, it is vital not to overuse them or under-use them and anybody that will jump in the Nations Cup League must be considered to be on the European Championships long-list,” said Splaine, who is in Copenhagen for today’s second-tier Promotional League Nations cup.

Hickstead-based Tipperary rider Breen and Camblin have been quietly giving a good account of themselves, producing decent performances in Portugal in March, followed by a score of 4/0 in Ireland’s third place in April’s Promotional League Belgian Nations Cup. They were also third recently in a 1.50m class at the three-star show in Hagen, Germany, and Splaine obviously feels the Olympic Lux 10-year-old stallion is ready for the next level. From experience, though, it comes as no surprise to hear that it is too early to say if Breen’s mount will get the nod for the four-man team in Rome.

“Camblin is a very nice horse, Rome will be his first at the top level. It is a calculated decision as to whether he will play a part and he will be assessed in the run-up. Of course, the easy option would be to go the more experienced route, but you have to follow your instincts. For example, Larkhill Cruiser impressed me enough in La Baule to give me a gut feeling that he would deliver and he duly did. Going there, I was erring more on the side of no than yes. His results were impressive over the winter, but he had not been in a team situation. In the end, though, he gave me reason to select him and maybe Camblin might do the same,” said Splaine.

The team to face 14 rivals in today’s Danish Nations Cup is: Alexander Butler (Will Wimble), Jennifer Crooks (SF Uryadi), Dermott Lennon (Kalvinretto) and Capt David O’Brien (Annestown). Also, four horses will make their debut on the team to contest next weekend’s Portuguese Nations Cup: Marion Hughes (HHS Fortuna), Eddie Moloney (Chatsworth Dan), Paddy O’Donnell (Harristown Princess) and Niall Talbot (Nicos de la Cense). James Tarrant is chef d’equipe.

lCASTLE Forbes Libertina is to be officially retired at Mullingar Fayre and Country Show in early June.

This follows a recent court ruling that rider Jessica Kürtens return the 15-year-old mare and a number of other horses to owner Georgina Forbes, upon the latter depositing a €300,000 security in a German bank. Forbes and Kürten are in dispute over payment of tax on winnings.

It had been speculated the mare would be retired for breeding.

In Kürten’s hands, Libertina won nine five-star grand prix. The pair were also victorious in the 2007 Rolex Top 10 Final in Geneva, and runners-up in the 2006 World Cup finals.


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