Padraig McCarthy confident Irish can get competitive

Padraig McCarthy was among three Irish riders to hit the deck at the recent European Eventing Championships, yet he doesn’t feel he has anything to prove in Boekelo this weekend, except to show that it was an aberration.

The Tipperary rider was not slow to admit his displeasure at the 52.3pens he scored in dressage at the Dutch event yesterday with the 15-year-old gelding Simon Porloe, but his mindset was one of assuredness that he and his team-mates would be in the hunt as the competition progressed.

The Europeans at Blair Castle in Scotland last month were the 38-year-old’s first taste of championship competition with Porloe, owned by Christopher and Sarita Perkins.

However, he said lining out at Aachen, Germany, in August, when he helped the Irish team to fourth place, meant Blair was not an eye-opener when first viewed.

“Aachen was very big and to jump a double clear was brilliant and a tremendous experience.

“At Blair, we produced the team’s best dressage score and everything was going to plan on the cross-country. We came to a fence, where you could approach either right or left. I went right, whereas my horse locked on to the left and landed on the fence, not realising he had to jump it.

“The horse has never ran out in his career. It was disappointing, but at least nobody got hurt.”

McCarthy is not under pressure to prove his capabilities with Simon Porloe, though he admitted that, with a year to the Olympics, “we need to redeem ourselves” in terms of showing the Blair fall was the exception.

“With an eye on going to Rio next year, we need to demonstrate that what happened at Blair was just a once-off. I feel we can do that.”

And his relatively high dressage score yesterday merely added to his determination.

“I am not happy with my score. I was first in the ring and they never give good marks to riders that are in early.

“He was a little bit fresh and a little bit tense and one judge marked him poorly,” said McCarthy, who produced a clear on the cross-county at Boekelo last year, only for a bang on his mount’s stifle to prove sore enough to end his competition.

McCarthy’s path to eventing was not typical. He started out in show jumping, working in Switzerland, before coming to a crossroads.

“I decided I wanted to go back to college, to do a degree in economics and finance. I started out at Waterford Institute of Technology, but did a year in Augsburg, Germany, under an Erasmus programme.

“I speak German. Then I went to the University of Berne in Switzerland, then came back to Waterford and got first-class honours in 2008. I followed this with a Phd in sociological study on business failure.”

However, horses were always part of the balance sheet and they become the bottom line in terms of his career when one potential customer called and got more than she bargained for.

“I always did a little bit of buying and selling of horses to fund my education. I had a horse for sale and [British event rider] Lucy Wiegersma came to buy a horse. We hit it off and she ended up with a husband as well. We still have the horse, MGH King Street. He’s six now.

“She encouraged me to start eventing and, when I moved in 2012 to England, I started competing more full-time. Our business is about competing and selling young horses. I’ve been three years at our base at Hatherleigh in Devon, now.”

While not happy with his dressage yesterday, McCarthy says this was offset by the 48.30pens scored by tyro Cathal Daniels on Rioghan Rua, while he also expects a strong showing from Westwinds Hercules, the mount of Joseph Murphy, and Jonty Evans, riding Cooley Rorkes Drift, both of whom step into the arena today.

“I think we have a very good chance. Young Cathal Daniels has been exceptional all year and he did a 48, which was very good, especially it being his first time at this level. He has helped to give us a good start. Jonty came here on the back of a top-three placing in Blenheim in the eight/nine-year-olds, so we are expecting a good run from him. Joseph is normally very solid and, with Westwinds Hercules he was the only rider to make the time in the cross-country here last year, so, the feelings in the camp are positive.”

*Denis Lynch has jumped nine places in the Longines World Rankings to 20th place, following his victory in the grand prix at the Furusiyya Nations Cup Series final in Barcelona, Spain.

Bertram Allen continues to be Ireland’s flag-bearer, remaining in seventh place, despite being out of action for a number of weeks after breaking his collarbone in a fall while competing in Austria.


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