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Sunday 22 April 2018

Horse body seeks showjumping points 'gifting' answers

Action from the Dublin Horse Show 2012. There are concerns over points for imported horses. Photo: Pat Murphy/Sportsfile.
Action from the Dublin Horse Show 2012. There are concerns over points for imported horses. Photo: Pat Murphy/Sportsfile.
Siobhan English

Siobhan English

THE Traditional Irish Horse Association (TIHA) is to request information this week from Showjumping Ireland (SJI) on how it proposes to tackle the controversy about the 'gifting' of showjumping points to unproven imported sport horses.

This followed a lengthy meeting between the TIHA and Horse Sport Ireland last Friday during which concerns were raised about the adverse impact unproven sport horses could have on the traditionally-bred Irish horse industry.

Under current SJI regulations, sport horses coming in from abroad with no proven record of points/winnings are assessed as at least Grade C quality, and awarded appropriate points (minimum 76 points).

Breeders claim this regulation has led to Ireland becoming a dumping ground for unproven sports horses from the continent at a time when a cull is being proposed to deal with the surplus of sport horses in this country.

Breeders also claim that once the unproven imports are awarded the SJI points, some of them are being sold on for big money by unscrupulous dealers.

"It can cost anything up to €10,000 to drive to shows and put 76 genuine SJI points on a horse competing here, but if you import a cheap horse with no record you can get these points just like that," said breeder Seamus Healy at a sport horse industry strategy meeting in Kilkenny last month.

Several breeders have also raised concerns about stallions which may have had their star ratings inflated by the SJI points awarded to their progeny.

The TIHA says it is "gravely concerned" about the SJI points controversy. "We wish to make it clear that allocation does not apply to traditionally-bred Irish horses. Buyers can be confident that all jumping points for genuine traditional Irish horses have been earned in competition, as shown on their individual records," said a TIHA spokesperson.

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Showjumping Ireland has refused to make any comment since the Farming Independent first highlighted the points controversy four weeks ago.

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