Eventers did us proud, but it could have been better

It was great to be involved in the Olympics as an advisor to our eventers.

The team did very well to finish fifth, while individually they were incredible, producing a seventh, 14th and 21st.

I really enjoyed the buzz, having been selected for two Olympics. Unfortunately, the boycott put paid to Moscow in 1980, although we did compete in the so-called Substitute Olympics at Fontainebleu. In Los Angeles four years later, my horse got injured. So it was great to be in there in the thick of it. It is truly amazing.

The team did as well as they ever could have done. We have improved the dressage an unbelievable amount but we’re still not good enough. It didn’t really turn into a dressage competition, because Michael Jung, who won the individual, was only 11th at the end of that phase. But we have got to improve much more in that phase because we’re putting ourselves out of contention.

We are very strong in the cross-country and show jumping. The benefits of qualifying a full team of five were there for all to see as we had two eliminated for falls in the cross-country. You need three scoring competitors and we had that to finish fifth and we could never have done better than that.

It is worth pointing out too that the two fallers - Michael Ryan and Camilla Speirs - both came a cropper in the last eighth of the course, only a few fences from the finish. Both were clear at the time and doing pretty well in terms of time.

On our dressage score of 152, we would never, ever have been better than fifth. But Aoife Clark did brilliantly to finish seventh overall, with Joseph Murphy in 14th and Mark Kyle in 21st. They all went round with only time faults in the cross-country, with Aoife and Joseph both having double clears in the show jumping. If Camilla had finished on her dressage score, she would have finished within around four faults of a medal.

What we must remember is that all the teams that finished ahead of us, and some that finished behind us, have enormous budgets for eventing and possess enormous horsepower. They have people that can go out and buy horses. We are not going to be able to do that but maybe we can spend more on actually training the horses we do have.

Of course Galway was well under way by the time I returned on Tuesday night. Our plans for the festival were once again, more or less tossed on the scrapheap because of the weather and resulting soft ground.

There were some good performances nonetheless, and Alpine Eagle probably ran the race of his life to be fifth in the Galway Plate. I would have liked JP to win it with Alpine but it was great for him that Bob Lingo came through so strongly.

Takeourcapoff ran a cracker to be third to another Dermot Weld winner in a two-mile flat handicap earlier in the week. She might return tomorrow in a mares’ hurdle although that is ground-dependent. The same applies to Celtic Cailin, who holds an entry in the same race.

Bendzoldan is our sole runner out west today. Bred by Michael Kinane, she has come back a much stronger filly this year, coming second in Dundalk last April before landing three handicaps on the turf.

She was just nabbed on the line at the Curragh on Oaks Day, with a nose in it at the end. That means she ran right up to her handicap mark. She got a pound for that so you wouldn’t think that she will be weighed down yet. She is in tremendous form and we can expect another bold bid, this time over seven furlongs. She should have no problem with the ground.

We have four runners in Cork tomorrow. We’ve been dying to get a run into Bible Belt, who is in great form but has been withdrawn from so many intend ended engagements because of the soft ground. She had just one run in far from perfect conditions and has been taken out at the Curragh and Newmarket since.

We are aiming for the Yorkshire Oaks but the preparation has not been ideal at all. Still, she would take a lot of beating in this Group 3 contest if she does make it to the stalls.

Royal Blue Star was declared for Galway and had to be taken out too. She is well and we’d love to get in the frame in a Listed race. Heroic Endeavour improved quite a bit when fourth last time out and wouldn’t be without a chance in the six-furlong handicap.

Overcall is certainly in with a very good chance of shedding his maiden status. He had a good run first time out in Fairyhouse when fourth. I would hope he has come on nicely from that and if he has, that might be good enough.


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