Coyle gets nod for World Cup spot

THE Show Jumping Association of Ireland (SJAI) selectors have made the prudent decision to nominate Trevor Coyle ahead of Jessica Kürten for the Gothenburg World Cup Show in Sweden next week.

The Swedish show is the final leg on the Western European League and the selectors recognised that Coyle had the best chance of qualifying for the finals in Las Vegas (April 16-20).

The Armagh rider, who recently took over the ride on the US-based Beverley Farm Stud string of horses formerly ridden by American Ray Texel, lies in 14th place on the Western European League with 41 points. The top 18 riders, plus sixth-placed current World Cup champion Rodrigo Pessoa, qualify for the finals. On the face of it, Coyle is already Vegas-bound, much to the satisfaction to his employers, no doubt. Nevertheless, the selectors felt it was wise to give him every opportunity to guarantee qualification.

Kürten, meanwhile, languishes in 33rd place on the Western European League with a total of 16 points and, realistically, it is a tall order to expect her to join Coyle Stateside.

It is noteworthy, however, that while Kürten did not get the nomination for Gothenburg, she did secure a separate invitation from the show organisers.

The upshot, however, is that she will have to compete in the pre-qualifier to make the 38-rider starting line-up for the World Cup class, while Coyle’s SJAI nomination means he has an automatic place in the points-gaining round.

Last weekend, Coyle failed to make any impression in the Dortmund World Cup show, posting 12 faults with Fleur in the qualifying class and not making Sunday’s World Cup competition. A swollen pastern was cited as the cause for the 12-year-old bay mare’s uncharacteristic performance.

Kurten competed in the World Cup class, but could only place 10th on the 17-year-old gelding Paavo N, adding a mere two points to her tally.

This weekend, both will get to boost their points total at ’s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. Coyle will, most likley be without Fleur and will call on a substitute horse.

Chairman of the SJAI international affairs committee Peter Leonard aslo revealed yesterday that if Coyle secures his qualification for the finals this weekend, he will opt out of Gothenburg, allowing Kurten to take up the nomination.

Leonard agreed Coyle was most likely on his way to Vegas, but conceded Kürten, was a long-shot.

“One could presume that Trevor has done enough, but he needs a few more points to copper-fasten his position.

“As for Jessica, we have given her every chance and it is up to her to make the best of these. Realistically, she would have to finish in the frame in ’s-Hertogenbosch and the first three in Gothenburg, but she is a very determined rider and you couldn’t rule it out.”

Another rider with an outside shot of booking a ticket to Vegas, but also one who cannot be ruled out, is Dermott Lennon. In 38th place on 13 points, he will also be competing in Hertogenbosch and Gothenburg and qualification is not beyond the bounds of possibility.

Meanwhile, Leonard confirmed that the team that represented Ireland at the World Equestrian Games last year will the first choice for the eight-round Samsung Nations Cup Super League this year. Peter Charles, Dermott Lennon, Kevin Babington and Cian O’Connor will be the first to be called on.

With Ireland set to defend its European team title this year, riders of the calibre of Coyle, Kurten, Billy Twomey and Army riders Lieutenant David O’Brien and Capt Gerry Flynn will be knocking on the door for a first-team place.

Ireland will contest five nations cups outside the Samsung League and Leonard said the selectors will be also be looking at Conor Swail, Robert Splaine, Denis Coakley, Cameron Hanley, Edward Doyle, Marion Hughes, Clement McMahon and Paul O’Shea to be part of the squad.

Leonard said such strength in depth augured well for the year.

“It is a great addition to team to have Trevor (Coyle) back, particularly with a horse of the calibre of Fleur and also the likes of Billy Twomey and his new stallion Luidam.

“So we are in a stronger position than last year and retain Tommy Wade as chef d’equipe,” said Leonard.

“Our main priority is to retain the European Championship team gold, plus achieve qualification for the Athens Olympics.”

Kurten, meanwhile, was almost a second off the pace when losing out to German Franke Sloothaak in a 1.60m jump-off class on Saturday. Riding Preishammer, Kurten produced a clear in 35.59 seconds, with Sloothaak riding Adolf D across the finish line in 34.77.

The previous day, Denis Lynch and Luigy 3 placed sixth in an accumulator class with 22 starters. Robert Splaine scorched to victory in a jump-off class on the Spanish Sunshine Tour with Coolcorron Cool Diamond.

Posting a double clear with the stallion, the Belgooly rider had over three seconds to spare in Friday’s victory.

In the Big Tour Invitationtational class on Sunday, Splaine finished sixth, having four faulted in round one.

Niall Talbot was also in the money, posting a double clear to finish third with Arrisma 95 on Saturday.

In Villamoura, Portugal, Marion Hughes was also faultless in a 1.35m class with Heritage Transmission, but lacked to pace and had to settle for seventh place, one better than Louise Walsh, riding Impact.

Walsh also rode Jogatina to third place in a 1.30m class on the same day, partnering Nadja S to eighth in the same competition.

ANNA MERVELDT-STEFFENS was out of luck in the grand prix at Dortmund with Fosbury 2 last Saturday. Scoring 67.33%, she finished in 15th place of 23 starters.

MARCUS SWAIL MVB MRCVS is to take over as vet to the senior three-day event team with immediate effect.

He is a partner in Anglesey Lodge Veterinary Hospital, based on the Curragh.

He is also a brother of leading showjumper Conor Swail and was previously vet to the young rider team. Marcus takes over form Con Kennedy MRCVS who had been team vet for several years and is retiring due to business and personal commitments.

AN attendance of 1,000 people was treated to quality rather than quantity at the St Patrick’s Day stallion parade in Claremorris, according to the organisers.

While there were just 24 stallions catalogued, breeders were well entertained, as Come T, Loughehoe Guy, Carnacon Ginger, Sir Rivie, Polanski, Quiletto and Bahrain Cruise elicited applause for their performances over fences. RID Welcome Flagmount piloted by local horseman, Gabriel Slattery, was said to have been particularly popular.

RHIAN FITZGERALD from Cork will face the biggest assignment of her career when she represents the Irish Universities at the Student Riders Nations Cup which is underway at Les Pieux, Cherbourg.

A second year dentistry student at UCC, she is a grand daughter of football legend, Jim Clifford, who represented both Galway and Kerry in All-Ireland finals.

The SRNC, organised by the International Unvieresity Equestrial Federation, consists of dressage and showjumping with three rounds taking place over three days.

This year 18 teams from 15 different countries including Ireland, USA, Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium Luxembourg and the UK will participate.

The Cork girl, who made her international debut for Ireland in dressage a couple of years ago, will be joined by two riders from Queens University in Belfast, Sarah Campbell and Jenny Tanner.

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