Sunday 15 September 2019

Equestrian: Tattersalls World Cup event hangs in balance

Louise Parkes

The fate of Ireland's World Cup qualifying event at Tattersalls in Fairyhouse hangs in the balance as the economic downturn has turned its attention to the Irish bloodstock industry.

The Meath venue was due to stage a leg of the FEI World Cup series at the end of May, but Tattersalls Ireland managing director, George Mernagh, last month signalled that, without alternative funding or sponsorship, the event would not go ahead.

Ireland's Capt Geoff Curran took the honours in 2008 when the bloodstock sales company underwrote the shortfall for the event sponsored by Horse Sport Ireland, Failte Ireland and the Dunboyne Castle Hotel.

But in December Mernagh said: "The high cost of financing international eventing means that private individuals or indeed small private companies can no longer be expected to carry the enormous financial strain of hosting these competitions on their own."

His statement followed the dramatic fall in turnover during the 11-day sale at Tattersalls in November when less than half of the 2,178 lots changed hands and revenue dropped by nearly €11m compared with the '07 sale.

Yesterday, however, Mernagh confirmed that he is continuing to negotiate with "two potential sponsors" who might come to the rescue.

But time is running out, because the extension granted by the international equestrian federation (FEI) for confirmation of the staging of the fixture expires today week.

"We have a meeting next Tuesday (January 13) and a final decision will be taken then," Mernagh told the Irish Independent yesterday.

The Tattersalls International Horse Trials has provided the perfect shop-window for Irish event horses and Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) chief executive, Damian McDonald, said yesterday that HSI "is working closely with Tattersalls and is still hopeful that the event will take place."

Meanwhile, top Irish race-horse trainer, Jessica Harrington, is one of the two new nominees due to be appointed to the board of Eventing Ireland at its agm on February 2.

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