Dressage Ireland’s national championships underway in Cavan
Ireland defending their Polo European Championship title in Italy this week
Dressage Ireland’s three-day national championships starts on Friday at Cavan Equestrian Centre. Photograph: Inpho
Dressage Ireland’s three-day national championships get under way on Friday at Cavan Equestrian Centre where, by late Sunday afternoon, champions will have been crowned at all levels from Preliminary up to Grand Prix.
Kildare’s Heike Holstein, the most successful rider in the history of the championships, returns to Cavan with the home-bred Samarant mare Sambuca, on which she won the Prix St-Georges and Intermédiare I finals for the past two years, and Charmeur. The latter, which won the Advanced final last September, will be in action on all three days as Holstein has entered the 11-year-old gelding in Sunday’s Prix St-Georges freestyle which she won 12 months ago with Sambuca.
Ireland, winners of the Federation of International Polo European Championship for the first time when beating France in the final in Berlin two years ago, have been defending their title this week at the Villa a Sesta Polo Club in the Arezzo province, Italy.
Having defeated Slovakia on Wednesday, the Irish team of Creighton Boyd (0), Stephen Hutchinson (0), Mikey Henderson (4) and Max Hutchinson (3), who are backed up by Jamie McCarthy and Freddie Horne, face Azerbaijan in the first of the tournament’s semi-finals on Friday.
Following their win on Wednesday, Boyd said that “the team trained and played a lot together during the summer season and it is really paying off.” Referring to the Irish horses that make up over 50 per cent of the 30+ the squad brought to Italy, he added: “The Irish horses have a cool temperament, are intelligent and very quick and can turn 180 degrees in an instant. A lot of these horses are retrained racehorses.”
Max Hutchinson commented of Friday’s semi-final: “It’s going to be a very tough test against Azerbaijan. They have really surprised everyone by how good they are, but we are feeling confident and will go really hard to try and bring this back to Ireland.”