Horse Sport Ireland confident it has valid case

Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) is confident it has a “valid” case as it prepares to file an appeal to the Federation Equestre International (FEI) Tribunal by today regarding the debacle at the European Championships that saw Cian O’Connor impeded in his round and Ireland denied a place in next year’s Olympics.

Speaking yesterday in the wake of a meeting with its legal representatives on Wednesday, HSI chairman Pat Wall said neither had it deviated from its intention to take its case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if unsuccessful at the FEI Tribunal.

“We are confident that we have a valid case.

“It’s a complicated legal argument, but we are going to do everything possible to see that we receive natural justice.

“Our legal team is submitting our papers to the FEI Tribunal, which must be in by close of play on Friday.

“You have to engage with your international federation before approaching the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”

HSI has engaged leading sports solicitor Gary Rice of DAC Beachcroft to compile a dossier on the case, while also retaining a specialist CAS legal counsel, David Casserly.

They did so after the dismissal of two appeals - one to the ground jury and then to the appeals committee - at the European Championships in Aachen, Germany, over faults incurred byO’Connor when a steward ran in front of him as he approached a fence on Good Luck near the end of what had been a spectacular round.

The four faults that resulted when he knocked the fence in the second round of the nations cup saw Ireland denied a place in next year’s Olympics, losing out by just 0.38 penalties to Spain.

In a statement last night HSI confirmed it “will be proceeding to lodge an appeal regarding the Cian O’Connor/Aachen issue and will be lodging this appeal in the first instance to the FEI Tribunal”.

However, there is a distinct possibility that the FEI Tribunal could decide the case is outside its jurisdiction.

The tribunal rules say that an appeal must satisfy the requirements of Article 165 of the FEI general rules, which are rather complicated, to say the least. One pertinent example: “An appeal is not admissible... against Decisions of the Appeal Committee on Appeals arising from Decisions made by the Ground Jury.”

However, it is thought HSI are following their legal advice to pursue an appeal to the tribunal, letting it up to the latter to decide if it has jurisdiction.

  • “Sub 50 at Burghley on a horse that truly dislikes the dressage is bloody good,” was the response on Facebook of Austin O’Connor yesterday after he scored 49.8pens on Morning Venture that left him in 16th place.

Alan Nolan followed up with 56.5pens on Bronze Flight to place provisional 32nd.

Double Olympic gold medallist, Germany’s Michael Jung took an early lead on FischerRocana FST earning 34.2pens, which probably made up for his wardrobe malfunction on Wednesday, when he realised midway during the trot-up with his second horse that his flies were undone.

It’s the turn of Mullingar native Joseph Murphy (Sportsfield Othello) and Timothy Bourke (Luckaun Quality) today.

The 74 rider/horse combinations from 10 nations tackle the cross-country phase tomorrow, with the show jumping on Sunday.

  • The Irish Breeders Classic, billed as the world’s richest young horse show jumping competition, reaches its climax tomorrow at Barnadown, Co Wextord, where riders will battle it out for €45,000 in the final for horses aged 5/6.

All horses must be born in Ireland and have documentation to prove it, so dam, sire and breeder must be documented in the passport.

Victory last year went to the six-year-old Talks Cheap in the hands of Alexander Butler, having been sold days earlier for €50,000 at auction.

The final for four-year-old horses has €4,500 up for grabs.

  • Cian O’Connor will have a welcome distraction today, when he lines out with Super Sox in the nations cup at Arezzo, Italy.

He will be joined by Limerick’s Paul Kennedy on the impressive Cartown Danger Mouse, the pair producing one of only three double clears in last month’s Millstreet Grand Prix, as well as Sligo’s Deane Rogan (Falco Van Spieveld) and Capt Michael Kelly (Ringwood Glen).

Ireland was drawn fifth of 13 teams in today’s final leg of the Europe Division 2 League.

At the five-star show in Saugerties, New York, Kevin Babington, Conor Swail and Darragh Kerins are on the hunt for major money, not least the $1m on offer in Sunday’s grand prix, while Offaly’s Darragh Kenny (Sans Soucis Z and Picolo) contests the five-star show in Brussels, Belgium.

  • Generous prizemoney and top-class competition will be the hallmarks of Sunday’s White’s Cross Charity Show, not least in the Ladies National Championships, which sees a €2,500 pot augmented by €3,000 of prizes in kind.

The Ireland Amateur Championships final also has €2,500 on offer, while the Lucky Meadows 1.10mtr Horse Grand Prix, the Hennessy’s Service Station 90cms GP for 128cms ponies and the Euro Daybreak 1.10mtr GP for 148cms ponies each boasts prizemoney of €1,000.

Competition at Cork Showgrounds, Curraheen Rd, begins at 9.30am.


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