Joseph Murphy says he is focusing on the positives this weekend, as he lines out as part of the Irish team in the nations cup at Ballindenisk International Horse Trials.
He is aboard Sportsfield Othello in the CIC three-star contest and is gearing up the 15-year-old gelding for Badminton in three weeks. Mixed would be a fair assessment of his mount’s form in recent months, suffering elimination at last year’s European Championships in Blair Castle, with a repeat performance in the three-star at Tyrella earlier this month, before finishing third in a two-star at Kedrah Castle.
“Blair was unlucky event for many, so, as an event rider I focus on the positives rather than negatives and work forwards from there,” said Murphy yesterday.
“Othello has been the top Eventing Ireland horse in both 2013/14 and was runner up in 2015 and Ballendenisk has always been happy hunting ground, with Othello winning both the CIC 3-star and CCI 3-star international competitions in recent years. With promised good ground and conditions, I feel it’s a perfect prep for Badminton, where he was the first horse to make the time last year,” said Murphy, who also rides DHI Top Story in the same class at Ballindenisk in preparation for the four-star British event.
Westwinds Hercules is the Down rider’s main hope for the Olympics and he is optimistic.
“Being part of the winning nations cup team in Beokelo at the end of last year, he has very solid form at this level and is currently being prepared for Chatsworth in May, which is one of the Irish target selection events. He’s in great form and I feel Team Ireland is looking very competitive for Rio. Team Ireland Event riders have been training hard over the last year, with a great structure in place, and we have also benefited immensely from the anonymous donor,” said Murphy, referencing the €200,000 received by Eventing Ireland to assist preparations for the Olympics.
Ireland manager Nick Turner is also upbeat about the nations cup - which also features Britain and France - following Ireland’s third place in the season opener in Fontainebleau, France. Aside from Murphy, his selection features tyro Cathal Daniels on the 13-year-old black stallion Barnaboy Freeman, Nicola Ennis on the nine-year-old Touchdown gelding Westwinds Jack of Hearts, and Michael Ryan aboard the 16-year-old chestnut gelding Ballylynch Adventure.
“I’m delighted to put such a strong team forward, with both Sportsfield Othello and Ballylynch Adventure competing at Badminton four star in just under three weeks time. A notable inclusion is Nicola Ennis making her nations cup debut riding Westwinds Jack Of Hearts. I’m looking forward to a great performance.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved