Funding crux forces cancellation of Belfast show

The Belfast International Horse Show will not go ahead this year. The news broke yesterday, just a week after Scarvagh House Stud emerged as a white knight to banish doubts about the event’s future.

The third running of the show at the Odyssey Arena was scheduled for December 1-4.

It is believed issues over funding were to blame.

Show Jumping Association of Ireland chairman Charles Hanley last night said he was informed on Wednesday of the show’s cancellation.

“It’s such a shame. I was happy to hear it was secured a week ago, but it looks likes it’s gone now,” he said.

The event was deemed a critical success last year, attracting the cream of international and national riders.

Equestrian Federation of Ireland secretary general Dan Butler said he was very disappointed to lose a five star show. He said the FEI/EFI are owed approximately €17,000 in levies from last year.

Hanley said national classes due to take place at the show will now be run in Cavan Equestrian Centre on December 10/11.

CHAIRMAN of the selectors for the senior show jumping team Taylor Vard yesterday said he was more “hopeful than confident” he could convince Lady Georgina Forbes to let her horses compete for Ireland in 2006.

Forbes informed the Show Jumping Association of Ireland (SJAI) by letter last Monday that her horses, ridden by Jessica Kürten, would not be available next year.

Her decision comes after the selectors rejected Kürten’s request for slots at the World Cup shows in Verona, Stuttgart and Mechelen.

Yesterday, Vard said he had replied to Forbes’s missive.

“I have responded to her letter and explained, basically, our situation and the reasoning behind our selections. I am hoping to get word back from her soon,” he said.

However, he refused to say he was optimistic of a reversal.

“I have learned that Jessica and her owners stand by their word. I would like to think I’m confident, but, I would have to say I’m more hopeful than confident.”

In handing out World Cup slots, Vard said the selectors had wanted to reward those that had battled for Ireland in the Samsung Super League final in Barcelona. Thus Shane Breen lines out in Verona, Italy (Nov 4-6) and Stuttgart, Germany. (Nov 16-20). Cian O’Connor finds himself 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).

When the selections emerged at the start of the month, Vard stressed he and the other members of the SJAI International Affairs Committee were not meting out retribution to Kürten for her non-availability this year. He pointed to the German-based rider’s expected elevation to the top 10 in the world rankings - she is now ranked sixth - and her automatic qualification to world cup shows. This will not happen until 2006, however.

Vard yesterday conceded he knew Kürten would have to wait a period before automatic qualification kicked in, but, said he was unaware it would not occur until the new year. Regardless, he said even if it was known, it would not have changed the selectors’ position.

He asked that Forbes consider the ramifications for Kürten of her latest withdrawal.

“I hope that she would realise her decision not to make the horses available is a hell of a blow for Jessica. She will again be denied participation in the Samsung Super League, but also the World Championships. Basically, if the Forbes horses are not available, then Jessica is not available.”

Contact could not be made yesterday with Forbes, nor, Kürten, who is in the US for the $1m Las Vegas Invitational, which begins today.

Meanwhile, Harry Marshall, who joined Kürten in not riding for Ireland this year, yesterday said he appreciated why Forbes had taken a stand.

“I agree with her being annoyed by whole process. I can understand her resentment. Jessica is the highest ranking Irish rider in the world and I have a mare that competed in three world cup finals and neither of us was selected for world cup duty.”

Marshall was among the 18 riders - of 27 invited - to meet with management in the opening round of a review of the selection process last Monday.

The meeting, arranged by the Show Jumping Association of Ireland, agreed a new system be put in place for 2006.

The system will be discussed by the selectors next Monday night, before being considered by the SJAI national executive and then forwarded to the Equestrian Federation of Ireland for ratification.

The future of Irish show jumping is also to be discussed on October 25 at a meeting of the Showjumper’ Club.

Vard said crucial to the process was the quick appointment of a chef d’equipe. He said two people emerged as contenders at last Monday’s meeting. He would not confirm their identity, but it is strongly suspected they are John Ledingham and Robert Splaine.

DERMOTT LENNON continues his World Cup campaign in Oslo on Sunday, having opened his account with a fourth place in Helsinki, Finland, last weekend.

The Dutch-based rider demonstrated his partnership with Morningside Stud’s Condios is developing according to plan, posting one of only four double clears.

Lennon will be aiming to add to the 13 points he picked up for his fourth place and gain qualification for the April final in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

He was also in the money with I Caesar, finishing third of 42 starters in a 1.40m speed class.

BILLY TWOMEY was just over a tenth of a second off the pace yesterday as he and Anastasia III finished runner-up in a 1.50m speed class at the Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham.

The heroes of the Samsung Super League Final crossed the line clear in 57.33 seconds, but had to play second fiddle to Robert Beavis, aboard Lucy May, the Briton coming home in 57.25 seconds.

David Quigley and the 10-year-old Dutch warmblood gelding Ashdale Futuro also produced one the competitions six clears to slot into fifth in 61.78. Four faults for Peter Charles and Rockstar saw them place 12th of 26 starters.

Earlier yesterday, Charles and the eight-year-old Selle Francais gelding Johnny Jumper four-faulted in round one to place 17th in a 1.45m jump-off class.

THE Munster Agricultural Society annual foal show and sale takes place on October 29 at the Show Grounds, Cork. The sale is also open to broodmares and yearlings.

The foal show will have three categories: pony, half-bred (sponsored by the West Cork Breeders Society) and Irish draught. Also, each category will have separate classes for colts and fillies.

A prize, sponsored by the Tack Shack, Buttevant, will be awarded to the best turned out animal.

Showing classes start at 10.30am and the sale starts at noon.

A mixed sale for horses and ponies takes place on November 19.

Enquiries and entries: 021/4315772.

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