Chairman of the selectors Taylor Vard yesterday said he was optimistic the post would be filled in the next few weeks, but stressed the selectors’ two nominations would be put before a forum of riders and management - organised by the Show Jumping Association of Ireland - next Monday in the first part of a review of the selection process.
“The riders may have others in mind. We will discuss everybody’s choice,” said Vard.
A second meeting, organised by the Showjumpers’ Club, takes place on October 25.
Dubliner Vard would not confirm the identity of the selectors’ nominations, but said they “would not be a big surprise.”
Former Army rider John Ledingham and Robert Splaine are the two prominent candidates for the post.
Vard said the selectors did not want a repeat of this year - which saw Ireland spend a lot of time at the bottom of the Super League - and were already kick-starting preparations for next year’s Super League. At the start of 2005, Eddie Macken was offered the post of chef d’équipe, but turned it down at the final hour, with the selectors filling the position themselves at the eight Super League venues.
Meanwhile, Vard said Jessica Kürten’s failure to be selected for forthcoming World Cup shows was not punishment for her failure to ride for Ireland in the latter part of this year.
“Jess is going fantastic, so we expect her to get into the top 10 in the world rankings. This would give her automatic selection for World Cup shows and mean Ireland would have two places,” he said.
As he spoke, it emerged that Kürten had made it to sixth place in the rankings. In a year of turmoil for the sport she and fellow Antrim rider Harry Marshall refused to ride for Ireland, questioning the selection process. Both also refused to ride on a team with Cian O’Connor.
The selectors gave the nod for Shane Breen to compete in the World Cup shows in Verona, Italy (Nov 4-6) and Stuttgart, Germany. (Nov 16-20). Cian O’Connor will line out in Geneva, Switzerland (Dec 8-12) and Mechelen, Belgium (December 26-36), while Billy Twomey competes at Olympia, London (Dec 13-19) and Leipzig, Germany (Jan 19-22).
“We wanted to reward the riders who competed in Barcelona by giving them two World Cup shows each,” said Vard.