Rising star Fitzgibbon selected for Dublin squad


INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION:NICOLA FITZGIBBON is the new kid on the block at this week’s Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show having been selected for the Aga Khan five-rider squad by manager Robert Splaine.

The 23-year-old Trinity engineering graduate from Kilteel will compete with her 14-year-old horse Puissance. “I’m honoured to be on the squad for Dublin, it has always been my favourite show and I’m more excited than nervous about the week ahead,” Fitzgibbon said.

Puissance and Fitzgibbon catapulted into the spotlight in 2009 as national champions, taking three Premier Grand Prix and the over-eight championship in Dublin.

Conor Swail and Niall Talbot have given some training to Fitzgibbon who plans to do a few more five-star shows following Dublin.

The Aga Khan squad for this year includes Shane Breen with Carmena Z, Denis Lynch on All Inclusive NRW, Shane Sweetnam on Amaretto D’arco and Billy Twomey with Tinka’s Serenade. Splaine will announce the four riders and reserve on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Jessica Kurten’s former mount Castleforbes Myrtille returns to Dublin with French ace Roger Yves Bost. Myrtille, who won the Mechelen World Cup in December, is part of the Castleforbes showjumping team owned by Lady Georgina Forbes.

Irish-bred showjumping horses also make it into the big time this week at Dublin, including Loughview Lou-Lou ridden by Dermott Lennon and bred by Antrim woman Judith Sossick which won a speed class last month in Aachen, Germany.

Making his debut in Dublin for Denmark is Omega Star, a former Millstreet four-year-old Discovery champion with Ronan McLaughlin from Malin and bred by Alan Robertson in Tyrone.

Cian O’Connor is bringing On Ira for the Puissance, a new horse which he rates and jumped 2.20m in Rome. “I am bringing Ballymore Eustace . . . and am tipping Conor Swail for a win with Lansdowne.”

The only cloud hanging over Irish showjumping at present is that fact they have yet to qualify for next year’s London Olympics. However, a good result in Madrid could see them on their way.