Correspondence has been sent by an Irish person to the Federation Equestre Internationale Integrity Unit concerning changes to the ownership of Ukrainian horses.
Speculation has been rife in recent weeks that the assets — including the horses — owned by Ukrainian oligarch and MP Oleksandr Onyshchenko could be seized after his immunity from arrest was lifted by the parliament in the midst of accusations he was in involved in a multi-million euro fraud involving the sale of gas.
If this happened, it could have meant the Ukrainians being unable to field a team for the Olympics and Ireland replacing them.
The matter took a dramatic turn last week when German show jumping legend Paul Schockemohle claimed to have bought 44 of Onyshchenko’s horses. Since then, the ownership of many of the horses on the FEI database has been changed to show Schockemohle as the owner, but a number of the horses are also now in the joint ownership of Schockemohle and Onyshchenko’s paid-for riders who have changed nationality to Ukrainian, Cassio Rivetti (formerly Brazil), Ferenc Szentirmai (formerly Hungary), Rene Tebbel (formerly Germany), and the 1996 Olympic individual gold medal winner Ulrich Kirchhoff (formerly Germany).
It means they and the horses can still represent Ukraine in the Olympics making it difficult to see how Ireland could replace them ahead of the July 18 deadline.
The FEI Integrity Unit is operated by the London-based Quest under Lord Stevens and the questions from the Irish person in the correspondence to Quest were preceded by a claim that the Ukrainian controversy had highlighted that “the integrity of the FEI passport system would appear to be undermined”.
National federations have the power to alter information on the FEI database and, unusually, the first question posed to Quest by the Irish person suggests a record of a recent change has been removed. The questions posed by the Irish person, who retained their right to anonymity, were:
1) Were the records on the FEI database of the ownership changes made by the Ukrainian Federation on the 27th June replaced by the changes made by those of the German Federation made on the 11th July with the original records removed effectively leaving no traceability?
2) Were the changes made on the 27th June by the Ukrainian federation made by Iryna Shulga (UKR) at a time when she was suspended for irregularities in dressage judging?
3) Are there any records of financial transactions between Oleksandr Onyshchenko and Paul Schockemohle to substantiate that these horses were actually sold rather that [sic] this just being a paper exercise?
4) If the Ukrainian team of hired riders win medals at the games and Onyshchenko is found guilty of corruption… does Quest consider this will draw adverse publicity on the sport of showjumping and provide support to those in the Olympic movement who want it removed from the games?
5) Accurate records of ownership of equines is required by ministries of agriculture to ensure biosecurity and disease control and accurate traceability, so does Quest consider these are compromised?
Cian O’Connor got Ireland off to the perfect start in Aachen, Germany, on Wednesday, racing to victory in a speed class on the 10-year-old mare Be Gentle.
The aforementioned Ukrainian rider Cassio Rivetti took runner-up spot with Beau Limit — owned by Onyshchenko until Monday, but now owned by Schockemohle — while 22-year-old Jonathan Gordon from Co Mayo finished fourth with PSG Junior behind Britain’s Michael Whitaker (JB’s Hot Property).
Ireland eventing team manager Nick Turner has selected the following four to contest the nations cup in Aachen which begins today with dressage: Aoife Clark (Wasting Light), Sarah Ennis (BLM Diamond Delux), Joseph Murphy (Westwinds Hercules), and Elizabeth Power (Soladoun).
High-flying dressage rider Judy Reynolds will line out on her Olympic bound mount Vancouver K.
Paul O’Shea is on a bit of a roll in the past week. The US-based Limerick rider scored a nice double in Fairfield, Connecticut, winning the $30,000 grand prix aboard Terceira, while also winning a $25,000 grand prix aboard Skara Glen’s Presence. He then made it a hat-trick when taking the top prize in the grand prix at the I Love New York Horse Show in Lake Placid.
Francis Connors extended his lead in the SJI Premier Series, providing the only double clear in last Sunday’s grand prix at Cork Summer Show with Erne Ladygoldilocks. The Waterford rider is now on 31 points, eight more than Alexander Butler and Capt Geoff Curran.
Connors’s win qualified him for the international competitions at next week’s Dublin Horse Show.
Ireland’s Olympic show jumping hope Greg Broderick has been named in the squad to defend the nations cup next Friday at Dublin Horse Show.
The Tipperary rider and his Olympic mount MHS Going Global provided one of only two double clear rounds in last year’s competition that saw Ireland lift the Aga Khan Trophy. The remaining three members of that victorious Irish team are also named this year: Wexford’s Bertram Allen (Hector Van D’Abdijhoeve), Darragh Kenny (Go Easy De Muze), and Olympic bronze medalist Cian O’Connor (Good Luck).
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