RDS dispute re-ignites and claims another casualty

THE dispute between the RDS management and the equestrian committee over the adoption of a new code of practice for the annual horse show has resurfaced, with another casualty.

Committee member Lt Col Ronnie MacMahon is the latest to end his long-standing connection with the society, claiming management are actively working to undermine the committee and its functions.

He said fundamental to his decision to sever links with the RDS was his claim that a focus on commercial activities posed a danger to the society’s historical connections with equestrianism.

While he did not feel the horse show was threatened by the commercial emphasis, he said the show’s format would be greatly altered.

“I concede that the RDS is a society that must be run in a business-like fashion. Nevertheless, it is not a business.

“While the management committee have rescued a dire situation, they have now gone to the other extreme, and its activities are profit motivated to the detriment of core values.”

Speculation exists that there will be major structural changes at the RDS’s Ballsbridge headquarters.

Lt Col MacMahon, reticent to comment on specifics, said: “If the plans that are in the pipeline are realised, it will be to the detriment of the show in that it will greatly limit the space available. The show will not have activities that are traditionally associated with it. The international element will be preserved, but other important elements will be eroded.”

Lt Col MacMahon’s resignation was preceded earlier this year by the resignation from the committee of Army Equestrian School officer in command Lt Col Gerry Mullins.

Lt Col MacMahon, who once held the same post as Lt Col Mullins, has been based for three years in the United Arab Emirates, where he maintains his interest in equestrianism. He has been involved with the RDS for 15 years and returns home each summer.

Speaking from Abu Dhabi, he said that in July agreement was reached on the adoption of a code of practice for the August show. He said it was understood that a new code, acceptable to both sides, would subsequently be drawn up for future shows. He now believes management will not follow through on its commitment.

“I did not want to resign, but could not operate under conditions that currently prevail,” he said.

Lt Col MacMahon also said he was aware of comments that linked him with the post of secretary general of the Equestrian Federation of Ireland. The position was recently vacated by Col Ned Campion.

Asked if he was interested in the job, he said: “I would not be disinterested ... if approached I would give it consideration”.

He rejected outright that the timing of his resignation from the equestrian committee was linked with the EFI post: “It has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with it.”

A spokesperson for the RDS was unavailable yesterday to comment on Lt Col MacMahon’s resignation.

IRELAND and Switzerland are locked in a head-to-head battle for super league status going into the last nations cup in Athens today.

With eight teams to qualify, Ireland currently hold the last place, following our third place finish in Zagreb last weekend.

Crucially, Switzerland’s win last weekend means they are on the same points total as Ireland. But, by virtue of Ireland’s better performance at the World Equestrian Games, the Swiss are relegated to ninth place going into today’s Athens nations cup.

It is thought that Switzerland would need to win today to deny Ireland a place in the super league.

Today’s contest will feature teams from Italy, Switzerland, Gt. Britain, Ireland, Hungary, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Belgium, Poland and Turkey.

The same team of that represented Ireland in Zagreb (Capt Gerry Flynn, Lt Shane Carey, Lt David O’Brien and Cian O’Connor) will line out, with Limerick rider Paul O’Shea added to the panel.

O’Shea, 25, used his Zagreb outing to notch up his first international win, taking the main class on Thursday with Liffey Valley, the former ride of Hazel O’Callaghan, who died tragically this summer. The Army riders were also in the money, with Capt Shane Carey winning the mini grand prix on on Newbawn, while Lt Shane Carey won the six bar with Killossery and also picked up a first with Laughton’s Lass. Lt O’Brien rode Lismore Clover to third place in Sunday’s grand prix.

CONOR SWAIL says the SJAI executive were naive in thinking he would accept its offer of the equivalent of the Kerrygold League winner’s purse.

Yet to decide his next move, Co Down rider Swail, who is based in Edward Cawley's yard in Meath, revealed yesterday he was travelling to the Continent on Tuesday for a three-month sojourn.

However, he said he hoped a meeting could be arranged beforehand to resolve the dispute.

“I would like to have it sorted before heading to Belgium next Tuesday. I expect them to drag their feet, but, as soon as they realise that the situation is not going to go away, I hope an adeqeuate solution can be found.

“It has got to stage that I want them to admit they are responsible for this mess.”

The basis of Swail’s dispute centres on a decision to add the North Wexford grand prix to the league schedule. He claims this resulted in him losing the title to Francis Connors, whose late rally included gaining valuable points at the disputed show. He says he had opted for nations cup duty in Spain towards the latter stages of the league, as he felt his lead was unassailable. Though he returned for the last round of the league, it was to no avail, as Connors placed second to be crowned champion by two points.

Swail disputes that he is being disingenuous in claiming that he was unaware North Wexford was part of the league.

“I would swear that I did not know North Wexford was part of the league until I received a call from a friend advising me to come home (from Spain) as Francis had come second in the competition.”

For their part, the SJAI claims it gave ample notice that North Wexford would form part of the league and that the decision was made prior to Swail travelling to Spain.

A HAT-TRICK of wins saw Danielle Quinlivan named leading rider at Cavan last week.

The Kanturk woman won the 1.20m qualifier, the 1.20m final and the 1.30m speed class. She was also runner-up in the 1.30m final.

Quinlivan, who has just begun her dentistry studies at UCC following her resignation from the Army, achieved her success on Price Cavalier, Narissudo and Silver Prince, the horses of Kilkenny woman Amy Griffiths.

FRANCIS CONNORS placed 10th in the final for seven-year-old horses at the FEI World Breeding Championships for young horses with Bryan McIvor’s Killy Jones last Sunday.

With four faults, the Waterford rider was unlucky not make the jump-off, that saw eight progress from a 32-horse starting line-up.

Killy Jones is a bay gelding by Dermott Lennon’s Dow Jones Courcel and is out of a Clover Hill dam.

A FOAL show and sale at the Cork Show Grounds has been rescheduled for Saturday, October 26, by the Munster Agricultural Society.

The show will have a class each for colts and fillies and is open to all foals entered in the sale catalogue. A special prize for the best Irish Draught colt and filly will be on offer.

The show classes are sponsored by the West Cork Horsebreeders Co-op, and will begin at 11.30 sharp.

Enquiries: 021/4315772.

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