Ireland's show-jumpers fail to qualify for Olympics

Ireland's show-jumping team today lost its last chance of qualifying for the 2008 Olympics when it failed to stay in the top 10 after the first round of the team championship at Mannheim, Germany.

Ireland's show-jumping team today lost its last chance of qualifying for the 2008 Olympics when it failed to stay in the top 10 after the first round of the team championship at Mannheim, Germany.

Dropping from overnight seventh to 13th overall at the end of today's competition means that the Irish squad will not go through to the second round of the team event tomorrow - only the best

10 teams take part.

This effectively finishes Ireland's chances of qualifying a team for the Beijing Olympics, as only a top three place at Mannheim amongst the teams not already qualified would have secured the slot.

Ireland's hopes sagged after the first two riders went out this morning - Cameron Hanley and Hippica Kerman accounted for 12 faults, while Marion Hughes and Heritage Transmission lowered three poles and added a time fault to finish on 13 faults.

Irish Independent Echo Beach and Cian O'Connor, drafted in on Tuesday from Fifth Man position, dropped their only fence of the championships to end on four faults, while Jessica Kurten and Castle Forbes Libertina also finished on four faults.

Today's faults were added to penalty points from Wednesday's speed competition to arrive at the final team score.

Jessica Kurten is now in 22nd position individually and Cian O'Connor 28th. The Individual European Championships finish on Sunday.

Equestrian Federation of Ireland (EFI) Chairman Charles Powell, commenting on today's failure to gain an Olympic team qualifying place, said: "I am disappointed for the team, but I am fully supportive of Team Manager Robert Splaine and the EFI Jumping Committee, who did their very best with the horsespower available to them."

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