Wednesday 13 December 2017

Equestrian: Splaine bides his time before finalising team

Louise Parkes

As Irish riders head for the five-star fixture in Madrid and a team lines out in the Nations Cup at the Spruce Meadows Masters in Calgary, Canada, this coming weekend, the show jumping line-up for the World Equestrian Games (WEG) is still uncertain.

Last Monday team manager Robert Splaine was expected to name the final two riders who will join Cian O'Connor, Billy Twomey and Denis Lynch for the event, which starts in Kentucky in just over two weeks.

But the jumping champion-ships do not begin at the Kentucky Horse Park until October 4, and yesterday Splaine said the riders who will fill the two remaining places will be officially confirmed next Monday.

Still in the mix are Shane Breen and Dermott Lennon, who both competed on the team that finished joint-fifth in the Nations Cup at Gijon in Spain last Friday. Breen had two good third placings with Dorada and World Cruise, and O'Connor steered his WEG ride, K Club Lady, into sixth place in the Grand Prix.


Other candidates include Shane Sweetnam with his top horse Amaretto Darco. The US-based Corkman joins Nicola FitzGibbon, Dave Quigley and Trevor Breen in the BMO Nations Cup in Calgary later this week. Ireland's last team victory at the Canadian venue was the second of a back-to-back double scored in 2000 and 2001.

Meanwhile, Darragh Kenny continued his high profile on the US circuit when finishing third in last Sunday night's hotly contested World Cup Qualifier at the Hampton Classic Horse Show in Long Island, New York.

Just four of the 36 starters went through to the jump-off and the 22-year-old from Belmont in Offaly -- who has been so impressive since basing himself with Missy Clarke and John Brennan in Vermont -- had the unenviable task of going first against the clock with Obelix.

He jumped clear again and his time of 44.04 looked good, but, third into the ring, Jimmy Torano shaved a second off that with a great round from Vince. Even this wasn't quick enough, however, as McLain Ward and his two-time Olympic gold medal-winning mare Sapphire were home in 40.85 to take the title for the second consecutive year.

Irish Independent

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