Irish equestrian talent feted everywhere but here

Show jumping seen as minority interest despite considerable contribution to economy

Cian O’Connor competed on his 13th Aga Khan team in 15 years. He jumped double clear on Friday on his Belgian stallion, Good Luck. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Cian O’Connor competed on his 13th Aga Khan team in 15 years. He jumped double clear on Friday on his Belgian stallion, Good Luck. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

Another year, and another Dublin Horse Show has come and gone, again showcasing the quality of Irish riders and, to an extent, certainly in the show and breeding classes, the quality of the Irish-bred horse.

This year’s entry for the Connemara pony classes was the largest on record. If this information is more for those with a specialist interest, it should be noted that the annual Dublin Horse Show is revered across the equestrian world. It is both domestic, in that it caters for competition riders of all levels, and international in that it also attracts world class riders for international classes.

Aga Khan glory

This year’s Longines International Grand Prix was won by Italy’s Lorenzo De Luca, with Shane Breen second and Cian O’Connor fourth. Regardless of this result, the big story for the general public – in fact for many the only story – is the Aga Khan Trophy event. One in a series of Nation Cups contested on the international show jumping calendar, it is the one which most resonates in this country.

Friday’s competition did not disappoint, culminating in a thrilling jump off between a stylish Irish quartet featuring three European stallions and Irish-bred MHS Going Global versus a precise, elegant squad from Italy mounted on two stallions and two geldings. Denis Lynch and his flamboyant stallion All Star 5, made a bold bid to beat the clock but a shock refusal cost Ireland the title.

Piergiorgio Bucci produced an immaculate round to secure victory for the deserving Italian team.

Ireland prominent

Yet again, Ireland, last year’s winners, were prominent. Irish teams and Irish riders, many of which are based abroad, are feted internationally week in, week out in Europe and the United States, producing results which are rarely reported at home. Why? Because show jumping is considered a minority interest despite its contribution to the Irish economy. Irish horses sell, but there is also the fact that Irish services in producing horses and training riders, are sought abroad. Show jumping is an employer as well as an earner.

Many of Ireland’s world class show jumping riders are in demand as teachers for aspiring international riders from other countries.

The Irish economy benefits in a range of ways from horses. Racing dominates through high profile performances but also from stud fees. Ironically, Irish international show jumpers look abroad for their horses.

Cian O’Connor was competing on his 13th Aga Khan team in 15 years. He jumped double clear on Friday on his dazzling Belgian stallion, Good Luck. Denis Lynch’s magnificent All Star 5 can best be described as a dashing thing of beauty.

Cause for celebration

Bertram Allen and Hector promise great things to come. Greg Broderick’s MHS Going Global is a rare Irish horse, bold and determined, and cause for celebration.

Most of all, never underestimate the large number of Irish people involved in show jumping, from pony club to riding club and amateur riders on to national, international and the elite world class riders. For a “minority” sport, it is very popular.

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