Irish team to donate Nations Cup winnings to Haiti charity
The Irish show jumping team competing at this week's inaugural CSIO in Abu Dhabi will donate any prize-money they win in Friday's €100,000 Nations Cup to the Haiti disaster relief fund.
Cameron Hanley, Dermott Lennon, Cian O'Connor and Billy Twomey will be lining out at the four-day fixture, which begins today at the Ghantoot Polo Club.
Victory in the team season-opener would earn €30,000, with €20,000 going for second place, and there is prize money all the way down to sixth, which will be worth €6,000.
Speaking from Abu Dhabi, Irish team manager Robert Splaine said that the riders were struck by what happened to the people of Haiti and wanted to make a contribution.
"Like all sports, ours is going through a financially difficult time, but what happened in Haiti puts things in perspective and the riders have decided that they will give any prize money they win in the Nations Cup on Friday to Goal," he said.
He is hoping they will finish prominently in order to maximise their contribution, but recognises that there is a fairly formidable line-up of opposition.
A total of 11 nations will compete, including Germany, Britain, Denmark, Holland, Italy and Sweden along with Gulf sides from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the hosts from the UAE.
Hanley will ride Southwind VDL; Lennon has his top horse, Hallmark Elite; O'Connor brings Rancorrado, with which he won both the World Cup qualifier at Olympia in London in December and the Basel Grand Prix last month; and Twomey has a choice of three rides -- his Amsterdam Grand Prix winner Je T'Aime Flamenco, Tinka's Serenade or Blue Thunder.
"We have a strong team and our riders have been going well but a lot of countries have brought strong combinations and there is a possibility that we will finish outside the prizes altogether," Splaine added. "However, the riders are anxious to do this and while it puts a bit of extra pressure on them, I hope they can finish in the prize money."
The show offers a total prize fund of €500,000, with €300,000 of that on offer in Saturday's Grand Prix -- whose champion will take the €35,000 top prize.