Kürten’s World Cup ambitions suffer a setback after fall

JESSICA KÜRTEN’S World Cup ambitions have taken a setback following a fall prior to Christmas.

Yesterday, she said she has been advised not to ride for up to two months, but was going against this.

“Doctors told me it could take six to eight weeks, but I hope to be back riding on January 3,” said a stoic Kurten, adding that such incidents come with the territory.

While she is not riding, she is continuing to stay fit and was doing everything possible to heal the injury.

“It’s very sore, but I have stopped taking tablets so that I know it’s sore. Otherwise, I would be too ambitious and would be riding. At the moment, I am walking and swimming.”

Kürten described the fall as simple and said that, initially, she did not think it was serious.

“I fell from a young horse as I was jumping. It was a simple fall ... on the point of the shoulder. I got up and said to the groom: ‘That hurt.’ But then I knew it was more serious. I thought it was a broken collar bone. I went for an X-ray and nothing showed up, but an MRT scan showed some damage, so they injected directly into the problem area,” she said.

The Antrim-born rider is joint 18th in the Western European League on 19 points, after placing seventh in Olympia on December 19 and eighth in Geneva a week earlier. As such, she is estimated to be approximately half way on the road to achieving qualification for the World Cup finals at Kuala Lumpur in April. On the plus side, Kürten is currently ranked seventh in the world rankings and as a member of the elite top-10 has automatic entry to all World Cup shows.

If she gets her wish and is back in the saddle by early January, she will have missed out on just two shows, Mechelen, this week and St Gallen next week. However, she remains hopeful of making the inaugural Al Maktoum Challenge in Dubai - the world’s richest show with a prizefund of $1.25m - on January 11-13.

“Dubai is on the cards, but if it is a case of going there and risking the shoulder problem becoming permanent, then I will not go.

“But I will have more ultrasound treatment on the 31st and at the moment everyone is positive and I expect to be back in time. The biggest problem at the moment is staying off the horses,” she said

Meanwhile, Kürten said any consideration of Lady Georgina Forbes allowing her horses compete for Ireland must be preceded by resolution to the crisis in show jumping.

The Equestrian Federation of Ireland (EFI) is withholding State funding from the Show Jumping Association of Ireland (SJAI), saying it must re-commence the process of finding a chef d’equipe and initiate a similar independent process of appointing a director general, following the SJAI’s decision not to renew the contract of Robert Joyce.

Forbes owns some of Kürten top rides, including Castle Forbes Libertina and Castle Forbes Maike, but yesterday the rider said: “The whole discussion about me is out the window until they clear up the trouble at home.” She felt that part of any resolution must see riders working with each other on a professional basis.

“Riders do not need to like each other, but they must have respect for each other.” She said on a personal level, it was her intention to continue in winning ways: “My goal is to continue as I have been going and try to build on it.”

But if she has her sights on being the world’s number one, she is not revealing it: “It’s my mentality to be quiet ... but it’s realistic for the world’s top 20 to move up and down with so many shows having good money.”

“There is a divide in the sport coming and, in some ways, it is dangerous. But something has to happen to make the sport a little more spectator friendly and sponsor friendly. I would like to see more shows with the elite, where they all want to win. From a sporting viewpoint, Las Vegas was amazing. It was the best sport and was short and interesting,” she said, while acknowledging that the prizemoney had yet to be paid out to riders.

As for new year resolutions, she quipped: “To stay on the horse.”

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