Allen and Lynch lead charge in the race for Rio
As the Olympic qualification deadline looms, Ireland's top riders are focused on securing individual places across the equestrian disciplines
The race is on to see if Ireland can gain some compensation for missing out on team qualification by earning two places in the show jumping arena in Rio de Janeiro in six months' time.
The Irish team missed the cut in controversial circumstances when placing seventh at the European Championships in Aachen last summer. They suffered a further blow last month when their appeal to the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), which was then taken to the Court of Arbitration, was turned down, leaving Irish riders scrambling instead to gain two individual spots for Brazil.
Bertram Allen holds a strong hand by leading the Group A North Western Europe, in which Ireland is included. With the 20-year-old likely to continue to top this group ahead of the March 6 deadline, fellow Irishman Denis Lynch will be hoping he can secure the second place as he continues to climb the FEI World Olympic rankings
Currently in eighth position, he will need to improve four places ahead of the March 6 cut-off. However, going on recent form on the World Cup circuit at Leipzig and Zurich, that is quite likely, and these crucial results may now also earn him a place at the FEI World Cup Final in Sweden next month.
Lynch also gained individual qualification for London in 2012, but subsequently lost his place after his horse failed a hypersensitivity test in Aachen. He was later replaced by Cian O'Connor, who went on to win individual bronze.
Ireland's eventing team has already secured their place, having qualified for the first time ever when sixth at the World Equestrian Games in 2014. They will contest the championships along with 10 other teams and a maximum of 22 individuals.
The 10-man squad in line for those five places is: Austin O'Connor (Balham Houdini and Kilpatrick Knight), Joseph Murphy (Westwinds Hercules and Sportsfield Othello), Aoife Clark (Fernhill Adventure), Clare Abbott (Euro Prince), Sam Watson (Horseware Lukeswell), Jonty Evans (Cooley Rorkes Drift), Mark Kyle (Jemilla), Cathal Daniels (Rioghan Rua), Padraig McCarthy (Simon Porloe), and Michael Ryan (Ballylynch Adventure and Dunlough Striker).