Sunday 25 February 2018

Showjumping: Macken puts HSI on spot

The announcement on Friday by Horse Sport Ireland that Nick Turner will replace Ginny Elliott as the new High Performance Manager in eventing was overshadowed by the news that Eddie Macken had withdrawn his application for the same position in showjumping.

HSI began the process of filling these two key positions in early December and what should have been a reasonably straightforward process has proved to be anything but. Prior to Macken's withdrawal – which came via a strongly worded letter to HSI chief executive Damian McDonald and chairman Joe Walsh on Thursday – Ginny Elliott had removed herself as a contender to continue in the eventing job she had held since 2008, despite having sat for an interview.

She said, rather cryptically: "Due to recent developments and the opportunity to contemplate, I decided at the weekend to withdraw my application for the High-Performance Manager's job for Ireland."

Turner was the Brazilian Chef d'Equipe at last year's Olympics and was an accomplished eventer himself. He has also been on the British international selection committee.

But to have two high-profile withdrawals of this nature is not good for business. Macken hasn't pulled his punches. He says in his letter that he believes HSI has "serious issues of deficiency to address before it puts winning teams into international competition." He adds: "Small changes would make big differences."

It is also thought there is some disquiet among riders, who are anxious that there be no delays in filling the showjumping position. A second round of interviews is expected to be held in early February. Robert Splaine, whose four-year term ended last month, is among those in the running.

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