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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Jumping takes a punt with new series

Siobhán English

Published 08/04/2015 | 02:30

An exciting new show jumping series which will see national and international riders competing for a generous prize-fund of €20,000 kicks off at the Millstreet International Welcome Tour this week.

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This will form the first of four qualifiers of Bet Show Jumping Live, which hopes to make show jumping more accessible to the general public by offering betting on the horses and riders.

Initiated by Robert Fagan of Mullingar Equestrian Centre, and supported by sponsors Devenish and the HSI Innovation Fund, the series will also take in qualifiers at Louth County Show (April 25), Galway Equestrian Centre (May 3) and Mullingar International (May 30), with the final taking place at the venue the following day.

The four qualifiers will be contested over a similar course. Height will be set at 1.30 metre, rather than the standard 1.50 metre for international competitions. This will be replicated at each of the four venues.

A form sheet, similar to a race card, will be distributed to the audience and the off-course betting punters prior to the final to assist them in placing their bets.

There will be an open draw to form the four groups of eight riders in the final. The winning horse and rider from each of the four groups will then go forward to the final. The winner will receive €10,000, with €5,000 for second place, €3,000 for third and €2,000 for fourth.

Owen Brennan, executive chairman of Devenish, explained the importance of this competition.

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"Show jumping has a great tradition here in Ireland with many world- class horses and riders originating from these shores.

"However, we must progress and make the sport more attractive and accessible to a wider audience if we are to maintain and build on our success. Our owners, breeders, producers and riders must be afforded an opportunity to make a living from this industry, thus sustaining and creating valuable jobs in our rural community."

Robert Fagan added: " "It is hoped that this new type of initiative will help increase attendances at horse shows, increase our appeal to new sponsors and increase prize funds for our owners, breeders, producers and riders. It is vital that we continue to strive to improve this sport and keep it in tune with today's demands."

The Mullingar International Horse Show takes place from May 29 to the June 1. See www.mullingarequestrian.com for more details.

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