Sunday 18 February 2018

Equestrian: Ryans stake World claim

Louise Parkes

Eventing High Performance Manager Ginny Elliot will name her 'longlist' for the World Equestrian Games (WEG) later this week and Bandon couple, Patricia and Michael Ryan, look strong contenders following top-20 placings in last weekend's hotly-contested 4-Star fixture at Luhmuhlen, Germany.

Patricia and her Beijing Olympic ride Fernhill Clover Mist looked doubtful after withdrawing following the dressage phase at Badminton in May, and then failing to impress at the World Cup Qualifier at Tattersalls in Fairyhouse earlier this month. But just 4.40 time penalties in last Saturday's cross-country phase at the German venue saw Patricia rocket up overnight from 21st to 12th place. Although she slipped two places to 14th with 12 show jumping faults, she is at last beginning to show her true form.

Husband Michael was only 0.7 points behind his wife in 23rd place after the opening phase on a score of 53.70, and though he picked up 16 cross-country time faults with Ballylynch Adventure, he added only one more in the show jumping ring to finish 19th. This 10-year-old chestnut gelding, which finished a strong third in the World Cup class at Tattersalls, took the step-up in competition totally in his stride.

The two other Irish runners fared less well. Melanie Ashe on Rathmolyon Flight was hampered by a dressage score that left her in 41st place, although she improved dramatically to 31st after the cross-country and finally into 25th. Capt Brian Curran-Cournane was only one place ahead of Ashe on the dressage score-sheet and was eliminated on the cross-country course with Dunran Castle.

Manager Elliot, who in an effort to control costs will take five combinations to the WEG rather than a possible six, said last week that "to be competitive at championship level we need riders competing at four-stars."

Luhmuhlen was the last opportunity for prospective team members to lay down a major marker before the games, which begin in Lexington, Kentucky on September 25.

Irish Independent

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