MARK KYLE and Step In Time will lead off Ireland’s challenge today as the eventing competition begins at the Alltech World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.
The Leicestershire-based Dubliner was yesterday named as pathfinder by high-performance manager Ginny Elliot and will take to the dressage arena this morning, followed in the afternoon by Cork’s Patricia Ryan on Fernhill Clover Mist, with Sam Watson (Horseware Bushman) and Capt Geoff Curran (The Jump Jet) undertaking their dressage tests tomorrow.
Camilla Speirs, riding Portersize Just a Jiff, were selected by Elliot to contest as an individual.
All the Irish horses passed the horse inspection yesterday morning and the team has been favoured with a good draw, going 13th of the 14 countries bidding, not only for a medal, but also qualification for the 2012 London Olympics.
Speirs is the youngest competitor in the competition at 21 years and riding the smallest horse, and Elliot explained that experience was the key consideration when it came to her team selection.
“These are four solid combinations, all with form at four-star level. Camilla Speirs is a real talent and Portersize Just a Jiff is a super little horse. Camilla is making her senior championship debut at 21 and, while I would have no hesitation in using the combination in the team, I have gone for experience on this occasion.”
Competitors will face the demands of the cross-country on Saturday and Ryan agreed with the prevailing opinion that the course was big with plenty of places to catch out a rider.
Speaking last night as she walked the course for the second time, she said: “It is big, a proper championships course, but beautifully presented. The designer has been very clever in how he has used the country to position fences. It big, bold and technical and will pose problems for everybody, as it should do, considering this the world championships. The ground is fantastic, there has been no rain for 40 days, but they have been irrigating the course and there is a green path through the brown grass.”
She said her mount was in peak condition and that the team were fired up.
“Fernhill is in great form. When I cantered him yesterday he ran away with me twice, she joked. “Everybody on the team is up for it and ready for the challenge. We are all aiming for personal bests and we are all just anxious to get going,” said the Bandon woman.
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