James claims to have pledges of €150,000 for Don’t Step Back campaign

THE woman campaigning to keep Don’t Step Back with rider Patricia Donegan claims to have commitments totalling €150,000 towards syndication of the horse.

Naomi James said yesterday that three people had each pledged €50,000 for a share in the gelding that was placed 10th in the Sydney Olympics with the Bandon rider. “I have guarantees from three individuals that money will be forthcoming unconditionally.

“These people are doing this in support of Trish and are not interested in self-publicity,” she said.

A member of the Munster Committee of Eventing Ireland, Currabinny, Co Cork-based Ms James described the three people as philanthropists.

She said earlier this week that a minimum of €300,000 would be required for syndication of the horse.

She said there were two strands to what she has termed the Don’t Step Back Campaign. Firstly, it is to ensure enough money is raised to fund syndication of the grey gelding and secondly to “assist Donegan and the horse achieve further Olympic stardom in Athens”.

Ms James, who is New Zealand born of Irish parentage, approached the horse’s owner, Joe Savage, after reading about his imminent sale.

Mr Savage revealed recently that a prominent American and Australian rider had shown firm interest in buying the Step Together progeny, who is a serious prospect for an Olympic medal.

Yesterday, he described Ms James’ efforts as “very commendable”.

“I hope she succeeds for Trish’s sake and the country,” said the Corkman, who has always said his first wish was to syndicate the horse and keep it with Donegan.”

Mr Savage also said he was due to have talks with the prospective American buyer again “around Christmas time”.

The Eventing Ireland executive was due to discuss the situation at its meeting last night.

SJAI chairman Tony Hurley overcame a challenge on Wednesday night to be returned as secretary of the association’s Cork/Kerry region at its AGM in Millstreet.

Also vying for the post at the meeting, which attracted more than 200 members, was Corkwoman Mary O’Riordan-Dineen.

Chairman John Hannan, vice-chairman Michael Hennessy and treasurer Ted Gibney were returned unopposed.

The committee, which would normally number 13, will have 14 this year, following a tie for the last place. Its members are: Donal O’Meara, James Tarrant, Pat Duggan, Mary O’Riordan-Dineen, Betty Murphy, Kate Horgan, Shirley Clifford, Stephen Clifford, Declan Cunningham, Kieran O’Donovan, Sean Kelly, Michael Costello, Eugene O’Brien and Elaine Leahy.

The region’s representatives on the national executive are John Hannan and Pat Duggan, while those on the incoming Munster Committee are John Hannan, James Tarrant, Tony Hurley, Kate Horgan, Pat Duggan, Michael Costello and Ted Gibney.

A motion proposing a postal vote be adopted for the future election of the committee was defeated.

A motion that officers be elected for a period of one year, following which they may be elected for no more than a period of a further three years and that they be barred from going forward for election for two years was carried, having achieved the necessary 75% vote of eligible voters.

The Irish Horse Board is relocating to new premises at the Business Campus, Maynooth, Co Kildare.

This will entail a suspension of normal services from Monday, December 9 to Friday, December 13. Staff will be available for the transaction of normal business at the new address from Monday, December 16.

The contact number as and from that date will remain the same: 01/6072816.

BALLINADEE Charity Ride in Co Cork will take place this Sunday, having being postponed from last Sunday. Starting at 12.30pm, it is open to all comers. The beneficiary will be the Cope Foundation.

CAMERON HANLEY aboard Jerome placed 5th in the 1.50m grand prix at Stockholm last Sunday.

Dermott Lennon and Ginger Watt were one place behind, with Corkman Billy Twomey riding Saffier ninth.

On the same day, the placings were reversed in a 1.40m class, when Lennon and Dow Jones Courcel placed fifth, one better than Hanley with Lady Pachat. Lennon (Dow Jones Courcel) and Hanley (Jerome) were also fifth and sixth respectively in a top score with joker on Saturday.

Hanley and Lady Pachat was second in a 1.40m jump-off class, with Billy Twomey and Saffier third in the 11-horse class. Hanley rode Jerome to victory in a 1.50m class, with Twomey fourth on Luidam.

Making it a double for Ireland on the day was Lennon, who won a 1.40m jump-off on Ginger Watt.

IRELAND’S Anna Merveldt-Steffens won the grand prix special at the CDI*** Indoor Dressage Show in Munich last Sunday.

Riding Fosbury scored 67.32% to beat Austria’s Andrea John riding Hermes on a score of 68.84%.

Merveldt-Steffens earned €2,000.

A SHOWJUMPING league will be held by Carbery Pony Club at Innishannon Horse Centre, Cork, on January 5, 12 and 19. Competition will begin at 10am and will feature the following classes: micro, mini, midi and maxi.

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