Nations Cup finale for Horse Show
There was a double boost for Irish showjumping over the weekend when it was confirmed by the international governing body, the FEI, that next year's Dublin Horse Show will host the last leg of the new-format Nations' Cup series.
Ireland gained automatic qualification when finishing fifth on the 2008 Samsung Super League leaderboard following a good fourth-place closing effort at the final in Barcelona last Sunday, and can now look forward to hosting the top 10 teams in the world at the RDS next August.
Samsung's withdrawal from equestrian after 20 years has created the environment for change, but some riders and show organisers have expressed concerns because the Super League concept had proven very popular.
The number of participating countries will now increase from eight to 10 under the new format which will be finalised before the FEI's General Assembly in Buenos Aires in November.
The riders, however, have now warmed to the idea since learning of the increased prize-fund available at the eight legs which will culminate in Dublin.
Ireland's performance at the Spanish fixture last Sunday was re-assuring, and the emergence of 23-year-old Thomas Ryan with a superb performance on Urleven van de Helle is another much-need shot-in-the-arm ahead of the new season.
But Horse Sport Ireland Chairman, Joe Walsh, said on Sunday night that riders will have to commit themselves fully "to a disciplined team ethic" next year.
For many years now many of the other top showjumping nations have insisted that riders sign annual contracts relating to participation on teams, sale of horses and ethical behaviour.
German riders sign up to a strict code of conduct, and Christian Ahlmann, who along with Ireland's Denis Lynch was one of the four showjumpers whose horses tested positive for the same banned substance at the Olympic Games, has been struck off the German 'A-Kader' list of elite riders as a result.