Kürten to request World Cup slots

JESSICA KÜRTEN is to test the goodwill of the Irish show jumping selectors with a request for slots in forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Kürten will be applying to the selectors for places at the World Cup qualifiers in Verona, Italy; Stuttgart, Germany; and Mechelen, Belgium.

Kürten’s husband, Eckhard, said they wished, in particular, to get the Stuttgart qualifier, considering it was their home ground. He also said they hoped to go to Mechelen, as in previous years it was not so popular with Irish riders. Mr Kürten said they recognised London’s Christmas show in Olympia was important to fellow Irish nations cup rider Billy Twomey.

The German-based, Antrim-born rider has been at loggerheads with the selectors, refusing to ride for the Irish team this year in a dispute over the selection process. She has also said she will not ride with Cian O’Connor.

Selection committee chairman Taylor Vard could not say how the management would view Kürten’s request.

“At this moment in time, I cannot say. I’m not looking that far. It is impossible for me to know how the committee will deal with her request. Also, at this stage, we don’t know how many riders will be vying for places,” said Vard

Kürten was the only Irish rider in the World Cup final in Las Vegas last April, when she finished 14th overall, having placed second in the final’s last competition. She returns to the US city’s Thomas & Mack Centre next month, when she will be among the world’s top 25 riders in the $1m Las Vegas World Invitational. The European Championship team gold medallist lines out with Quibell and the speed horse Libertina and is confident the former’s experience during the World Cup final will prove beneficial.

“I am privileged to be among the best in the world,” said Kürten, who nevertheless will not be fazed. “I jump against these riders every week, so I wouldn’t discount my chances. I rested Quibell for two months after the World Cup final, so she is ready and is accustomed to the Vegas arena, while Libertina is turning out to be a sensational horse.”

Kürten plans to further prime the mare Quibell with two indoor shows in the run-up to the Vegas showcase, which takes place on October 14/15.

Kürten received her ticket to show jumping’s richest event due to her 11th-place in the current world ranking. The show is the only event in the US to get a five-star rating and begins with the $100,000 Vegas Stakes, a jump-off class, followed by the $50,000 Knockout, where riders race against each other on identical courses. Kürten may be ranked number 11 in the world, but not for her driving skills and, so, she is getting into gear for the $100,000 Ride and Drive, where riders jump a course on horseback and finish an obstacle course in a vehicle. The event concludes in fitting style with the $750,000 Grand Prix.

She will take on seven of her contemporaries from the US, three from Britain, two Swiss, and one each from Iran, Belgium, Canada, Mexico and Brazil. The galaxy of stars heading for Vegas include world number two Markus Fuchs from Switzerland, Germans Ludger Beerbaum and 2005 World Cup winner Meredith-Michaels Beerbaum. Americans Beezie Madden, Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner at Hickstead, Laura Kraut and McLain Ward will also be fancied, while Britain will look to Nick Skelton and the great Arko III.

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