Irish-breds top of the eventing class

Irish-bred horses continue to dominate the world of eventing, topping the latest yearly rankings by the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBFSH), which were issued on Monday.

Irish-breds top of the eventing class

Individually, German-bred fischerRocana FST earned the most ranking points, but collectively the Irish Sport Horse (ISH) studbook topped the lot, and continues to be favoured by a host of the world’s top eventing riders.

Cooley Cross Border, bred in Co Louth by Johnny Duffy, and competed by USA’s Kim Severson, is the highest-ranked of the ISH horses in the latest annual figures. Apart from Severson’s mount, the other five ISH horses that counted in the rankings are ridden by Ireland’s Sam Watson (Ardagh Highlight), Great Britain’s Oliver Townened (Cooley SRS as well as Ballaghmore Class) and Piggy French (Vanir Kamira), with the list completed by New Zealand star Mark Todd (Kiltubrid Rhapsody).

It’s the seventh consecutive year in which the Irish Sport Horse has been top of the class for eventing, but Horse Sport Ireland’s interim chairman Jim Beecher cautioned that every effort has to be made to keep the success going. “We will have to continue to raise our game, as competition from other studbooks is increasing every year,” he said. “We have great raw material and intensifying our focus on the breeding goal will help us to remain competitive in the international arena.”

The corresponding rankings for show jumping horses shows the ISH studbook down in 14th place, with Belgian and Dutch counterparts dominating. The highest-ranked ISH show jumper is Limestone Grey, competed by Italy’s Lorenzo De Luca, who is himself ranked number four in the world.

Incidently, another of De Luca’s rides, Belgian-bred Halifax van het Kluizebos, is the overall top-ranked show jumper on the studbook list.

Germany won the FEI Eventing Nations Cup series overall following the last event at Boekelo on Sunday where they finished second to New Zealand. Ireland, who came fourth in that latest round, placed eighth in the overall table but had only contested three of the nine fixtures in the series in which a nation’s seven best scores count in the final standings. Of the 18 countries who had some level of participation during the season, only the German and British teams appeared as many as seven times. The Germans managed five victories along the way.

Jonathan Smyth and Charlton Clio claimed Sunday evening’s Allianz Ireland Grand Prix League 1.40m fixture at Eglinton Equestrian Centre. “She was second last year and I was hoping to do one better this year and she pulled it out of the bag,” said Smyth. “She just keeps on giving.”

Before his round on the winner, Smyth had already taken the lead in the event on Ping Ball, which gave him second place as well.

In the corresponding 1.35m series held at Maryville Stables, Capt Geoff Curran took the honours on Galway Bay Laith.

Wexford stages the next 1.35m leg this coming weekend, while both 1.35m and 1.40m rounds will be held the following week at Cavan Equestrian Centre.

After an absence of five-star show jumping since Barcelona at the end of September, top-level action resumes this week with the FEI World Cup series getting underway in Oslo, the first of 13 venues on the road to the Paris climax in April. Bertram Allen, Mark McAuley, and Shane Breen provide the Irish interest at the Norwegian show.

The defending champion is USA’s McLain Ward, who, with HH Azur, won it for the first time when the finale was staged in Omaha, Nebraska last April. This time around, all legs will be staged in Europe, in what is the 40th year of the competition. While a number of riders have won it more than once, only one has scored three consecutive wins — none other than Ireland’s team manager Rodrigo Pessoa, who won in 1998, 1999, and 2000 with Baloubet du Rouet, who passed away at the age of 28 earlier this year.

Ward will not be in Oslo to start the defence of his title, the only American rider listed being Chloe Reid with Adamo and Codarco. The aforementioned Lorenzo De Luca is set to compete with both Limestone Grey and Halifax van het Kluizebos.

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