Monday 19 February 2018

Equestrian: Kuerten forced to miss glamorous finale in Rio

Louise Parkes

Denis Lynch and Billy Twomey compete in the glamorous finale to the nine-leg Global Champions Tour (GCT) in Rio de Janeiro this weekend, but Jessica Kuerten is a notable absentee from the start-list.

Kuerten is lying fourth on the GCT rankings after a superb run that included fourth place in Turin in May, third in Cannes in early June and then second in Monte Carlo later that month and would normally be a strong contender for the big bonus on offer at the last event in Brazil.

However, her top ride, Castle Forbes Libertina, which had a seven-month injury break last year, has been on the injury list again for the last few weeks and the main hope in the Irish camp right now is that she recovers in time to line out on the Irish team for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Kentucky, which take place from September 25 to October 10.

Another combination that team manager Robert Splaine hopes to have in his arsenal for Kentucky is Dermott Lennon and Hallmark Elite. But the big challenge for the Banbridge man is restoring the confidence of his horse which took a bad fall at Hickstead last month.

Lennon will be hoping to do just that on his tour of the Spanish circuit, alongside Cian O'Connor, Shane Breen and Capt David O'Brien, over the next few weeks. The four will compete in the non- superleague Nations Cup in Gijon in 10 days' time and will then move on to the big-money 5-Star fixture in Madrid the following weekend.

For O'Connor, this will be the final warm-up ahead of departing for Kentucky. He has already been named alongside Twomey and Lynch for the US fixture and if Lennon and Kuerten can complete the line-up, then the Irish team looks seriously competitive.

Meanwhile, eventing high performance manager Ginny Elliot has added Jayne Doherty, riding The Only One, and Capt Geoff Curran with The Jump Jet to her shortlist for the WEG. Highclere Castle Horse Trials take place this coming weekend and Elliot said that all of the combinations will compete at the fixture unless "expressly excused."

Just five riders will be finally selected, so the pressure has been increased on the originally named squad of Mark Kyle (Step in Time), Elizabeth Power (Kilpatrick River), Michael Ryan (Ballylynch Adventure), Patricia Ryan (Fernhill Clover Mist), Camilla Spiers (Portersize Just a Jiff) and Sam Watson (Horseware Bushman).

Irish Independent

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