Dressage rider, Anna Merveldt, came a step closer to qualifying for the London Olympics when finishing sixth in the Grand Prix at Fritzens in Austria yesterday.
Partnering the 16-year-old Bavarian gelding, Coryolano, the Kildare-born rider (49) lined out in a field that included the winning duo of Britain's Carl Hester and Uthopia, who are expected to be in the mix for a medal this summer.
Merveldt, currently ranked 63rd and based in Italy, is Ireland's leading rider in the world rankings. With New Zealand unable to field a team, Ireland has moved onto the Olympic reserve list, and with the qualification deadline of June 17 fast approaching, it seems increasingly likely that Ireland can make the cut.
Merveldt is the only Irish rider to reach the Olympic dressage final, finishing 11th in Barcelona in 1992.
Meanwhile at the Dutch Youngsters International show jumping tournament in Wierden, Holland yesterday, Ireland's Conor Drain steered Ultijak into third in the Young Riders Big Tour class.
The Irish team of Bertram Allen (Zensation), Max O'Reilly-Hyland (Westwinds Cirracruise) and Sven Hadley (Adelgonde Z) finished fourth in Thursday's Junior Nations Cup.