Broderick's Swiss timing secures shock ticket to Rio
Yesterday's announcement that Greg Broderick and MHS Going Global have been proposed to the OCI as the sole Irish showjumping representatives for the Rio Olympic Games has met with a mixed reaction.
Team manager Robert Splaine said from the outset that current form would be a major factor when it came to decision-making time, and the 31-year-old from Tipperary and the Irish-bred horse were the stand-out performers at the final selection trial during the Nations Cup show at St Gallen, Switzerland last weekend.
However, it was Bertram Allen who earned the slot due to his rankings during the Olympic qualification period, and there has been a wave of disappointment that the 20-year-old German-based Wexford rider and his lovely grey mare, Molly Malone, have been overlooked.
They rocketed to prominence with brilliant performances at the World Equestrian Games in France in 2014 and their third-place finish at the World Cup Final in Las Vegas last year, and Allen has consistently maintained a top-10 spot in the world rider rankings and gained a legion of fans worldwide ever since.
In stark contrast, Broderick is ranked 252nd and relatively unknown outside Ireland. A top horse producer, he made history at Dublin Horse Show in 2014 when winning all three Young Horse categories. And last summer he and Going Global produced two fault-free rounds to help clinch the coveted Aga Khan Cup.
There were four horse-and-rider combinations in contention for the Olympic slot and many had their money on 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Cian O'Connor with Good Luck whose extravagant jump has always suggested Olympic potential. Gritty determination is the trademark of the Meath rider who has a long record of pulling off his best performances under the most immense pressure.
Denis Lynch was also in the mix with All Star which showed tremendous form over the winter months. But in the end it was the double-clear in last Friday's Furusiyya Nations Cup, and the same again in Sunday's Grand Prix, that clinched it for Broderick and the horse owned by Lee Kruger from Caledonia Stables in Edmonton, Alberta.
In announcing his selection, Robert Splaine said his chosen combination "have been outstanding contributors for Ireland in Nations Cups and have been consistent clear round jumpers at 5 star level."
A mistake in the first round of the St Gallen Nations Cup and a fence down in the Grand Prix jump-off may have sealed Allen's fate.
Broderick said in a Facebook post yesterday: "I feel for Bertram who won the spot, and I'm sure he will represent us in many more Olympics. It was a huge call by Robert Splaine and HSI (Horse Sport Ireland) to put us forward, and we will do everything in our power to make Ireland proud. Roll on Rio."