RDS in court move over HQ of SJAI

THE discord between the Royal Dublin Society and the Show Jumping Association of Ireland (SJAI) over the association’s headquarters at Ballsbridge escalated this week with the news that court proceedings are imminent.

Yesterday, RDS chief executive officer Shane Cleary confirmed that the society was taking the matter to the courts in a bid to resolve the dispute over the SJAI's tenancy, but would not comment further.

In January, the RDS requested the SJAI to sign a new lease for its Anglesea Lodge headquarters. This would have involved a substantial increase in its annual rent. In March, the RDS went further, asking the SJAI to vacate the premises.

Subsequently, the RDS made an application to the circuit court to consolidate both cases. Last Monday, however, the SJAI legal team successfully argued against this, meaning that both demands will be heard by the courts separately at a future date.

The SJAI will be buoyed somewhat by Monday's decision, seeing it as a reversal for the RDS. They will feel they have a good case, possession being nine-tenths of the law.

The association certainly disputes the level of increase sought by the RDS. It could even argue that, in an extreme case, it should be compensated for vacating the offices it has rented since 1988.

There is also the prospect that the SJAI may take up residence in the offices of the new governing body for equestrianism Horse Sport Ireland if or when it is formed. This is a long-term prospect, however.

The RDS is planning major changes at Ballsbridge, an area that commands substantial prices for property. Mr Cleary recently confirmed that the society intended to source "additional long-term secure funding from the assets" at the Dublin site.

SJAI chairman Tony Hurley was also reluctant to talk yesterday: "The whole thing is in the hands of our solicitors. It is at a delicate stage and I am not going to prejudice any negotiations by commenting."

Mr Hurley also confirmed that the association would hold its 2001 AGM on November 19 at the Ambassador Hotel, Kill, Co Kildare.

The RDS dispute, if not resolved, is certain to get a hearing.

CIAN O'CONNOR'S promise of a good opening to his World Cup campaign came to naught last Sunday, when he lowered three in the first round with Irish Independent Casper.

The Kildare rider had come through the preliminary class in ninth place on Friday, opening up the prospect of gaining points in the World Cup class, but to no avail.

He gained some consolation, when winning a 1.30m class on the gelding Lucky 4 Sum prior to the World Cup competition won by Germany's Toni Hassmann on Goldika. O'Connor resumes his bid for points this weekend in Oslo, before travelling south to Aarhus in Denmark.

In Palermo, Italy Francis Connors counted a third on Cruiseway in the grand prix amongst a number of podium finishes last weekend. The grey also carried him to two runner-up spots and another third place finish.

Noel C Duggan's Millstreet Miss was also in the frame with the Waterford rider, providing him with another second and third place. Also in winning form was Billy Twomey, the Cork showjumper producing a double clear with Anastasia at the Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham for victory.

EVENTING IRELAND has launched a petition as part of its strategy to have the sport retained as an Olympic discipline. You can add your name to it at www.eventingireland.com/olympic-form.dot or the Eventing Ireland page www.eventingireland.com in the news section.

The petition comes as the International Olympic Committee prepares to consider a proposal at its executive meeting on November 11 to drop eventing from the 2008 games.

ROBERT SPLAINE continues to hold a good advantage in the SJAI indoor league, after good placings in the points-gaining classes at the Northern Indoor Championships last weekend.

The Corkman gained six points for his third in the grand prix on Diamond Cliff, to add to his previous one point accrued in the master's class on Springfield Ohio. Splaine also finished sixth on Springfield Ohio in the grand prix, but only the best score is counted.

This leaves him on a total of 32 points, nine better than Clem McMahon, who did not compete last weekend. Harry Marshall was elevated to third in the league on 15 points following his grand prix win on Paako.

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