Riders putting team before money in opting out of Calgary

THE decision not to send a showjumping team to the cash-rich Spruce Meadows show in Calgary next week was based on the desire to do well at the World Equestrian Games, according to Peter Charles.

The Hampshire-based rider said the trip across the Atlantic would have been too arduous with the games in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, coming just days later. Accordingly, he said it was decided to focus on adding a world medal to the team’s 2001 European championship gold.

“It was a collective decision by the riders and the chef d’equipe Tommy Wade to save the horses for games. We are putting the team before money to ensure the horses are a bit fresher.”

Charles was speaking after he produced a sensational double clear last Sunday to claim the prestigious Hickstead Derby for the second year in a row.

To jump clear over the Hickstead derby course is difficult at the best of times, but Charles proved you do not even have to see the way forward after his hat slipped down over his eyes when Corrada threw caution to the wind on the famous derby bank.

‘‘It was a bit of a blur,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve got this poncey hat but luckily Corrada used her own eyes,’’ said Charles, who was also celebrating the birth of his third child six days earlier, a daughter called Sienna.

The pairing went on to make light of the course and join Robert Smith on the Irish-bred Mr Springfield in the jump-off. However, when Smith lowered two, it left the door open for Charles. Taking full advantage of the cushion, Charles jumped the 10-fence course clear with ease, arriving at the finish line nearly 16 seconds behind the time set by Smith.

Immediately afterwards, he said: ‘‘I’d never have won if Robert had gone clear,’’ admitted Charles. ‘‘Corrada only has one gear, she couldn’t have gone any faster.’’

Yesterday, he further played down the win vis-a-vis WEG, saying it only proved the 13-year-old mare was on form: “The win bears no relation to the games, other than it proves Corrada is jumping well and is fit. The derby is a specialist class and cannot be compared to the games.

“I wish I had a better horse for the championships and my chances of getting an individual medal (as he did in 1995) are not good.

“The first day of the championships are against the clock; you couldn’t pick a worse competition for my mare but she should come into her own on the second day with the team.”

Charles, a member of Ireland’s European gold medal winning team in 2001, agreed it would be fair to say the Irish team had not been firing on all cylinders this summer. Nevertheless, he still rated Ireland’s chances next month as ‘good’.

“If we get a medal it will be great, if we get a win it will be outstanding.”

IRISH riders will be keeping the flag flying at the CHIO at Rotterdam and CSIO at Gijon this weekend. Dermott Lennon (Garronturton Lady, Liscalgot, Ginger Watt and I Caerar), Cameron Hanley (Lavaletto 4, Rodrigo, Claydons Phoenix and Hombeline d'Etang), Cian O’Connor (Waterford Crystal and Tinka's Girl) and Denis Coakley (OBOS Quality and Dreampoint) compete at the Dutch show. Lt Shane Carey (Lismakin, Laughton's Lass and Killossery), Lt David O’Brien (Boherdeal Clover, Lismore Clover and Carrig Dubh), Capt. Gerry Flynn (Rincoola Abu, Newbawn and Rathnew) and Conor Swail (Windgates Cruise West, Windgates Dynamic, Windgates Mystique or Windgates Paragon) are hoping to reign in Spain, where last weekend Swail, Lt Carey and Capt Flynn were in winning form.

THE Eventing Ireland selectors have selected the following combinations (listed in alphabetical order) to compete at the World Equestrian Games Championships on September 11-15: Team: Patricia Donegan (Don’t Step Back), Sasha Harrison (All Love Du Fenaud), Jane O’Flynn (Kilnadeema Star), Eric Smily (Irish Patriot).

Individuals: Vina Buller (Glencara), Susan, Shortt (Just Beauty Queen).

The selectors note that in the event any of the team members withdraw in the coming two weeks, those selected as individuals will not necessarily be promoted to fill the vacant team position.

Meanwhile, Eventing Ireland has asked that the following changes to the international eventing calendar be publicised as, in previous years, they would have attracted Irish entries: Bonn-Rodderberg has been cancelled; Mondial Du Lion D'Angers will now be held from October 17-20.

Pau will now be held from October 24-27. Applications to compete at the latter must be received by the selectors by September 4.

CLEM MCMAHON notched up a double of grand prix victories last week at the expense of Francis Connors. But the latter still gained enough points to see him pose a threat to Spain Kerrygold League leader Conor Swail, who was busy notching up wins in Gijon, Spain..

In both the North Wexford grand prix at Gorey on Saturday and the Estuary Fuel’s grand prix at Limerick McMahon and Connors had two in the jump-off.

McMahon had the greater firepower on each occasion, however, in Kathleen McDermott’s Dark Flight, with Connors runner-up on Cruiseway.

In Wexford, Connors also placed fifth on Noel C Duggan’s Millstreet Miss, one place better than McMahon on Gelvin Clover. The following day in Limerick, McMahon rode Gelvin Clover to third, with Connors sixth on Who’s Business As Usual.

Connors’ performances now see him on 84 points. This leaves him just 21 points adrift of what seemed a formerly 105 points held by Swail. With a number of qualifying competitions remaing, it is all to play for. .

DUHALLOW horse and pony show, scheduled for tonight at Newmarket, Co Cork, will now take place tomorrow, beginning at 2pm. The same arrangement will apply for the remaining shows.

Banteer gymkhana will form the attraction for Cork showjumpers on Sunday, when four arenas will be in use. Qualifying competitions for five and six-year-olds and seven-year-olds and upwards for Cavan Championships will for the feature.

CONRAD SCHUMACHER, trainer to Dressage Ireland’s top riders, will host a dressage convention at the Cavan Equestrian Centre on November 23-24.

The event will feature top Irish international riders in dressage, eventing and showjumping.

Day one will cover basic dressage work for horses in each discipline. Day two will cover advanced dressage work at FEI level.

In Europe, Mr Schumacher’s students have won more than 40 international medals. Among his famous riders are Ellen Bontje, who won team silver for the Dutch at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, and German native Sven Rothenberger, who won team silver and individual bronze medals for the Dutch at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Tickets, priced at 50 for both days, or 30 per day can be purchased from Audrey Furlong: 1850 202051; or Joan Keogh: 01/2955537

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