Holstein ensures Ireland will field team at European dressage championships

Holstein joins Kate Dwyer and Judy Reynolds by making qualifying mark

For the first time since 2003, Ireland will be able to field a team at the European dressage championships which take place in Rotterdam in August.

A third qualifying score was recorded in the CDI3* Grand Prix in Keysoe, England on Friday evening by the reigning Irish champion Heike Holstein when she finished seventh on the home-bred mare Sambuca (69.326 per cent). The 17-strong competition was won by Britain's Carl Hester riding Nip Tuck (74.457).

“I’m thrilled to achieve the qualifying score for the Europeans after just four international outings with Sambuca,” said Holstein, a Kildare, who won the first of 12 national titles back in 1990.

“The mare is learning all the time and she has really grown up over the last three weeks competing at shows in Belgium, Germany and here in Great Britain.”


Already qualified, Kate Dwyer and Snowdon Faberge finished joint-12th (66.196) on their first CDI start in nine months.

“I’m really pleased with my score,” said Dwyer. “We had a couple of costly errors this evening but Snowdon Faberge is feeling stronger and we plan to take in a number of international shows in Great Britain and on the continent in the next three months.”

Gillian Kyle, chair of Horse Sport Ireland's dressage and para-dressage high performance committee, said: "This is brilliant news. We have a number of riders seeking to qualify for the Europeans and the plan is to have a squad to select from for Rotterdam. Our aim is to qualify a team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics."

Ireland's top-rated dressage rider Judy Reynolds, who too has already qualified for the Europeans, is in action this weekend in s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands where, having led at the halfway stage, she finished sixth in Thursday's World Cup Grand Prix on Vancouver K.

The Germany-based rider partners the Jazz gelding in Saturday afternoon’s freestyle to music competition where she hopes to gain enough points to qualify for next month’s FEI World Cup final in Gothenburg.

In show jumping at s-Hertogenbosch, Wexford native Bertram Allen won Friday's opening international five-star class of the show, a 1.40m two-phase competition, with Ballywalter Farm and Alexander Duffy's Fairytale 86. The nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare was previously campaigned by the rider's younger brother Harry.

In Wellington, Florida, Ireland's Daniel Coyle won Wednesday's 53-strong 1.45m two-round competition with Ariel Grange's Canadian Sport Horse Tienna, an 11-year-old mare by For Pleasure. The Co Derry native was home clear in the second round in 27.98 seconds to finish ahead of Brazil's Eduardo Menezes on H5 Uchingo (28.37) with Co Down's Conor Swail placing third on Captain (28.71).

In Friday's 1.45m speed class, where Coyle picked up five faults on Tienna, Swail again finished third on the BB Gingras Equestrian-owned Captain (60.29) behind Mexico's Santiago Lambre riding Charatinus (59.26) and Brazil's Fabio Leivas da Costa on Randon Pleasure (59.35).

The feature competition of week 10 of the Winter Equestrian Festival is Saturday night’s Horseware Ireland Grand Prix where Coyle and Swail are among eight Irish riders to have declared starters.