Equestrian: Splaine hopeful Irish can remain hot to trot
Irish show-jumping team manager Robert Splaine yesterday confirmed his squad for the penultimate leg of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup series at Hickstead in 10 days' time.
Splaine has made only one change to the side that scored an emphatic and historic victory in the hallowed arena at Aachen in Germany last Thursday.
Cian O'Connor, who produced a spectacular double-clear with K Club Lady to clinch the coveted Aachen title, is being rested and has been replaced by Cork-born and US-based Shane Sweetnam, who took a break after lining out in the early legs of the series, which kicked off in La Baule, France in May.
Sweetnam is named with Amaretto d'Arco, while Billy Twomey, pathfinder in Aachen and now a linchpin of the Irish team, is listed with the stallion Je T'Aime Flamenco.
Dermott Lennon and Woods Rosbotham's Hallmark Elite, who were also foot-perfect in both rounds at last week's German fixture, have also been named along with Denis Lynch and Nabab's Son and Shane Breen with Carmena Z.
It will be a home show for Tipperary man Breen, who has been living at Hickstead since marrying Chloe Bunn, daughter of the late and legendary Douglas Bunn.
Ireland are now third on the 10-nation premier Meydan FEI Nations Cup league table, but Chef d'Equipe, Splaine, yesterday said that there is still work to be done because "our position is by no means assured".
The bottom four teams will be relegated at the end of this season, which concludes in the Dublin Horse Show at the RDS in just over two weeks' time.
"I am very aware that the concluding competition at the Failte Ireland Dublin Horse Show comes up on us very fast after Hickstead and I also must ensure the availability of horses for Ireland's participation in the World Equestrian Games at Kentucky in September," he stated.
Meanwhile, Showjumping Ireland (SJI) this week issued a lengthy statement in relation to a long-running dispute with the organisers of the annual Millstreet Horse Show in Cork.
On Monday, SJI Chairman Ronan Corrigan told the Irish Independent that the national governing body's concerns relate to the non-payment of levies due from the 2008 show. These are paid by all SJI show organisers and are reinvested in the sport.
However, Millstreet spokesman Thomas Duggan stated the same evening that the nub of the disagreement was about the inadequacy of the SJI's insurance policy "as proven by our experience" in relation to an accident that occurred at the Cork venue in 2007.
Millstreet Show is no longer affiliated to the SJI, which subsequently introduced suspensions and fines for riders competing at unaffiliated events.
Duggan pointed out on Monday night, however, that "we reserve the right to do within our premises as we please in relation to what we organise, and we expect to be treated no differently than any other show, including Dublin Horse Show."
Ireland's prestigious event at the Royal Dublin Society stages both national and international competitions, but the national classes are not SJI affiliated.
And, in a climate of ever-increasing tension, the majority of the SJI Competitions Committee resigned last month due to unease over a number of issues, including the decision to stage the SJI National Championships during the week in which the Millstreet summer show traditionally takes place next month.
Millstreet impresario, Noel C Duggan, told the Irish Independent on Monday evening that the matter "is now in the hands of the Competition Authority".
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