Naturally, there was a little regret, but mostly he was heartened by the performance of Quite Zero, who he figured coped well with what was his first four-star grand prix. The bay stallion is now 11, but has little enough comparative mileage, having been sidelined with two hernias, and Ryan said any frustration at the error was negated by Quite Zero’s overall approach to the 1.60mtr test.
“The four faults came towards the end of the course, a simple oxer, and I would describe it as a green fault, he’s not a horse with a huge amount of experience, I have a huge opinion of him, I trust him. He’s only done three grands prix to date, one in Spain, the second in Millstreet, where he won, and the third in Italy.
“Mechelen was his first his four-star grand prix, but I know his ability and it was the right decision and it is time to move forward and allow him to get comfortable at that level. Having a fence down is always a frustration, but he proved he is one for the future, he wasn’t phased by it and he is giving me a lot of hope,” said Ryan, who noted that his best horse, Caribo, was sixth in Monday’s grand prix (which was won by Denis Lynch) at the Belgian fixture.
Ryan has spent nine years in Switzerland, having originally left to ride in Sweden when aged 18. He plied his trade for four years with Optimum Horses in Switzerland, before setting up his own yard with his girlfriend, Laura Aschwanden, whose mother Simone, owns Caribo, Quite Zero and the Irish-bred Cruise On Clover.
“I’m more a producer. Nearly all my horses are young, for example we bought Quite Zero as a two-year-old, Cruise on Clover as a three-year-old and Caribo as a five-year-old. I know the horses for many years, which ensures I am comfortable and reduces the stress for both horse and rider.”
The Thurles native is one of those riders based on the Continent who, generally, flies under the radar, though he competed in the Young Riders Europeans in 2006, and Super League finals in Barcelona 2008. The Senior Europeans figured in 2009 and it is a consideration again this year, assuming things go well.
Ultimately, though, next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is the main goal.
“The plan for either Caribo or Quite Zero is to be capable of jumping nations cup level by May, but the main goal is the Olympics in 2016. For sure, the Europeans would be a stepping stone for Quite Zero, but it could be too early,” he said.
As for his own capabilities?
“I don’t think any rider reaches a level where they can’t improve and I’m no different. The sport is getting more technical and you always need to improve if you want to stay competitive.”
Ryan also says he has a good relationship with Ireland team manager Robert Splaine.
“Robert is very good with keeping in contact, and discussing my plans for the year ahead. I would be hoping to hear from him soon. In the meantime, one or two more World Cup shows would be super.”
The prodigy that is Bertram Allen also came in for praise.
“I would have high respect for Bertram. He does it so easily and what he has achieved at such a young age is amazing. When he goes clear, he is unbeatable. He is setting the standard, between him and Scott Brash, they are the ones to beat when they get in a jump-off.”
lThe Federation Equestre International says it will make a decision in the coming months on Millstreet’s application to stage the 2017 European eventing championships for juniors and young riders.
The Cork venue is vying with Breda in the Netherlands for the event.
Last year, Millstreet won its bid to host the 2016 European Show Jumping Championships for juniors, young riders and children on horses on July 26-31.
lShow jumpers Richie Moloney (Alsvid), Conor Swail (Grafton), and Shane Sweetnam (Chaqui Z) line out in the two-star show in Florida this weekend.
Sunday’s $125,000 Trump Invitational Grand Prix is the feature, showcasing 35 of the world's top riders. The competition is a tee-up to the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival, which runs until March 29 and boasts over $6m in prize money, and hosts 5,000 horses and 2,800 riders from 50 US states and 31 countries.
Also this weekend sees Michael Hutchinson (Acorad 3, Bendix and Can Ya Makan) compete in the two-star show in the UAE.