Ireland eventing coach Nick Turner is hopeful the good times will continue this weekend as he leads his charges in the Eventing Nations Cup final in Boekelo, the Netherlands.
Having achieved the goal of booking a ticket to the Olympics at the World Equestrian Games in August, the Briton watched yesterday as Austin O’Connor (Kilpatrick Knight) slotted into 16th on 51.50 penalties after the first day of dressage, with Padraig McCarthy (Simon Porloe) in 23rd place on 54.40pens.
“I’m delighted with how the year has gone, and obviously elated with Olympic qualification,” said Turner. “It has allowed us to realign our focus to assess how some of the riders and the younger horses are coming through.
“We are lucky in that we are drawn last of the teams here, but we will be hoping that there will not be too much rain and the ground does not deteriorate. Obviously, there are some strong teams, but we could be in the top three or four. There is no reason why not.”
Ireland are equal fourth on 22 points in the nations cup rankings, having secured points in their three events, Ballindenisk, Aachen (Ger) and Waragem (Bel) recently. By contrast third-placed France have 50 points from six outings, so, no chance of Ireland moving up.
Turner feels the cross-country course reflects the importance of the event, but says his quartet — Jonty Evans (Double Dutch) and Joseph Murphy (Westwinds Hercules) undertake their dressage today — have the ability to tame it.
“It’s a big track with some modifications from last year. It is a thinking rider’s track, with plenty of questions that could cause run-outs.
“However, all the riders are very experienced and so are the horses, so they should be able to cope with it. If the riders do what they are more than capable of doing, we could finish up well in the league standings.”
He said the focus next year would be on maximising the talent available for the Rio Olympics.
“Next year will be about developing horses to ensure we have the maximum number qualified for the Olympics. From Jan 1, we have 18 months to do this and to ensure we have a good selection.
“Also, with the European Championships at Blair Castle [Scotland] next year, it will be good for morale to achieve a good result. We need to always look to improve, and evolve.”
Turner, who took up the managerial reins last year, said the mood in the camp was positive.
“There are always little issues, but there’s a good feeling among the riders that we have the makings of a strong team and we’ve got to keep our focus on achieving the best result at Rio.”
Cork couple the Ryans started in Boekelo as individuals yesterday aboard two eight-year-olds, with Mike scoring 65pens on Tomgar Rembrandt to lie last of the 45-strong first-day tranche, while Trish’s 55.80pens with Dunrath Eclipse left her in 30th place.
lNORWAY did Ireland a big favour this week by withdrawing from the Furusiyya nations cup final in Barcelona, Spain.
Ireland had finished second last in the first division and was facing relegation if the Scandinavians finished in the top eight at this weekend’s final, which boasts a prizefund of €€2,362,000.
lBILLY TWOMEY placed fourth with Ardcolum Duke in yesterday’s opening international class at the Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham, the Corkman jumping a double clear with Joe Flynn’s grey stallion.
A strong Irish line-up includes Cian O’Connor, Bertram Allen — aiming to continue his move up the world rankings having jumped 15 places to 17th this week — Trevor Breen, David Simpson, Alexander Butler and Michael Hutchinson.
lShowjumpingIreland’s Munster Region members are being urged to make a big effort to sell tickets for next Friday’s fundraiser at Curraheen Park Greyhound Stadium in Cork. The event has over six years raised an estimated €130,000, which financed popular pony, amateur, young horse and grand prix competitions.
However, promoter Jerry Sweetnam yesterday said unless next week’s event is supported it may not be possible to sustain the competitions at current levels.
“If every one of the 850 adult members in Munster sold just one book of tickets, we would raise more than €40,000, which would be a real boost to create bigger and better competitions in the members’ own region,” said Sweetnam. “On the other hand, if no effort is made, the hard work we have done to build up competitions will count for little as there is a real danger they may have to be curtailed next year. I urge members to sell tickets and return stubs in the envelop provided, which does not even require a stamp.”
The greyhound fundraiser has prizes for ticket-buyers, including a first prize of €1,000.
To purchase tickets, phone: 087-2584907 or 086-2574746.
lAoife Clark returns to the World Breeding Federation Eventing Championships in Le Lion d’Angers, France, next week, aiming to at least equal last year’s second place. It was Ireland’s best result to date, which Clarke achieved aboard Fernhill Adventure, bred in Cork by Mary Quinlivan.
This year, she rides Wasting Light, another seven-year-old, by Ghareeb (TB) out of Barnview Diamond, and bred by Patrick Jones, Co Wexford.
Others aboard seven-year-old horses are Maria Byrne (BGS Juicy Fruit), Cathal Daniels (Rioghan Rua), Nicola Ennis (Westwinds Jack of Hearts), and Niall Griffin (Monarts Garrison Guy). Ireland has three representatives in the class for six-year-old horses: Aidan Keogh (Pride of Tredstep), Heidi Hamilton (Dam Easy), and Terence White (Garrybritt Tinkerbell).
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