With exactly five weeks to go before the start of the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games at North Carolina in the USA, Horse Sport Ireland today (Tuesday) held at press conference at the RDS in Dublin to launch Ireland’s involvement in the Games.
The FEI World Equestrian Games are held every four years in the middle of the Olympic cycle and are expected to attract 500,000 spectators over two weeks of competition, with 1,000 athletes and 1,500 horses competing from over 70 countries.
The 2018 Games will take place at Tryon International Equestrian Centre in North Carolina and Ireland will send full teams to compete in Show Jumping, Eventing and Endurance, along with individual athletes in Dressage and Reining.
The World Equestrian Games will see new team and individual World Champions crowned, four years after the 2014 Games were held in Normandy, France.
The Show Jumping competition at Tryon starts on September 19th and Rodrigo Pessoa’s Irish team, sponsored by Devenish and The Underwriting Exchange, will start among the favourites as reigning European Team Gold medalists.
Recent impressive results for Irish riders has left Pessoa with a tough job in picking his team:
“We have an unprecedented situation where we have a big choice this year to make up the team, it’s not done yet [the final selection]. We are really pushing it to the final minute because we want to get the current form of each combination. Whoever gets to go, we hope that it will be the right team to do the job and get qualification [for the Olympics] and also to fight for a medal. We will try to do those two things in Tryon. We’re basically ready, we just need to keep our horses in form now.”
The Eventing competition begins on September 13th with the opening Dressage Phase, followed by Cross Country on September 15th and the final Show Jumping phase on September 16th.
Sally Corscadden, Irish Eventing team manager has named the following squad:
Tipperary’s Padraig McCarthy with Mr Chunky
Kildare’s Aoife Clark with Fernhill Adventure (ISH)
Galway’s Cathal Daniels with Rioghan Rua (ISH)
Meath’s Sarah Ennis with Horseware Stellor Rebound (ISH)
Carlow’s Sam Watson and Horseware Ardagh Highlight (ISH)
Corscadden is happy her squad is in good form as the Games approach:
“The form of all of our riders has been very good. We have been winning internationals and we now have two riders in the top 30 of the world rankings and we’ve got a bigger pool of riders coming through as well so hopefully the aim is to produce them to perform to the same level at the championships.
“We have quite a young squad, but they want to go to WEG and compete against the best in the world and take them on. They have a super attitude, it’s all about qualifying for the Olympics and challenging for a medal. In preparation, the emphasis has been on training all three phases equally and ensuring that the riders look after themselves as well as they do their horses. The riders have been doing the short format events alongside the long format and this has been good preparation for the riders,” Corscadden said.
Dressage begins in Tryon on September 12th with Kildare’s Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K flying the flag for Ireland. The pair have taken the Dressage world by storm in recent years, with several top Grand Prix wins and an 18th place finish at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Amanda Renouard, Irish Dressage Team Manager said:
‘We are delighted to be sending our most successful Dressage Olympian Judy Reynolds to compete as an individual at the World Equestrian Games. Vancouver, affectionately known as JP, has partnered Judy to successfully smash every record held for Irish dressage. This year has been a consolidation period for Dressage. Firstly we amalgamated Dressage with Para Dressage and work with all athletes together. We have identified new talent and created three new squads, The A squad – athletes with the talent to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, The B squad, athletes identified for the Paris 2024 cycle and the Developing Squad, new and emerging talent who are at the start of their international career. Over 40 horse and rider combinations have been selected and this list is growing. Dressage is Ireland’s fastest growing equestrian sport. The sport is all inclusive and welcomes all interested athletes, supporters and sponsors.”
Ireland will be represented in the Reining discipline at the Games (Sept 12th – 15th) by Bernard O’Sullivan – originally from Ballyknockan, Co Wicklow and now based in Australia.
With little opportunity to compete in WEG qualifying events in Australia, O’Sullivan traveled to Chile and Canada where his results saw him secure a ticket to Tryon. He has secured the exciting horse “This Guns For Nic” to compete at the Games and has expressed his enormous gratitude to Skye Mitz from Byran Texas for making This Guns For Nic available for WEG.
Irish Quarter Horse Association Secretary Derek O’Byrne White said:
“Bernard’s background is in Eventing, he switched over to reining in 2013 and has had some amazing results which tells me that he is just a fantastic horseman, so we’re very optimistic about his ability. His choice of horses is amazing, and he couldn’t have a better horse. This horse is a top 10 horse. I think he’s on a level playing field with all of the competitors and with the horse that he has, they are capable of doing it.”
Ireland will send four athletes to compete in the Endurance competition at Tryon which takes place from September 12th and 13th. Among the Irish quartet for the Endurance competition is Horseware Ireland founder Tom McGuinness:
“I’m really looking forward to the Games, we’ve been planning this for five years and things are all going according to plan. The terrain in Tryon will be no problem for my horse and the heat will be no problem. Our preparations have been going very well, we were 11th at the Europeans in August, the horse then had a little break and came back and did a two-star which we won by over 10 minutes which was an amazing experience. We are very happy with the preparations, I think if it all goes well on the day we’ll be top 10.”
The full Irish Endurance team for the World Equestrian Games is:
Avril Bray with Moro Torcaz
Hilda Donahue with Al-Marah Speed or Mirage SR
Tom Mac Guinness with Horseware Sasha D’Aillais
Jane Moss with Streak Afire TTF
**Editors Note** Additional photos available on Sportsfile
Sam Watson, Irish Eventing squad member:
“I think Ardagh Highlight can play a really important part for the team and for me myself at the championship. I don’t think I’ve ever been capable of producing a performance like I can right now, so fingers crossed we can bring back a medal.”
Cathal Daniels, Irish Eventing squad member:
“Rioghan Rua has been with me since she was six-year’s-old and we’ve gone right the way up through the levels up to seniors now. Her performance this year has been very good, so it’s just a matter of keeping her ticking over now until we get there, but it should be good and I’m very excited.”
Aoife Clarke, Irish Eventing squad member:
Fernhill Adventure is the most talented horse I’ve ever sat on, he’s just taken a little bit of time to come into his own at this level, but I really think this could be his year.”
Sarah Ennis: Irish Eventing squad member:
I’ve been having a really good season, Stellar Rebound has never run so well, I’m excited. I think he is amazing, he has everything and such a good heart. I’d dearly love to get a medal on him along with the rest of my teammates.
About the FEI World Equestrian Games
The FEI World Equestrian Games™, held every four years in the middle of the Olympic cycle, is one of the biggest events on the global sporting calendar, combining eight equestrian World Championship caliber events in a pre-determined location. The FEI disciplines – Jumping, Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage, Eventing, Driving, Endurance, Vaulting and Reining – are all included on the competition schedule, while equestrian-focused demonstrations and exhibitions will also be hosted throughout the duration of the event. The 2018 edition of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ will be held in Mill Spring, NC, over thirteen days from September 11-23rd, 2018 at Tryon International Equestrian Center.
More details – The official website for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games is www.tryon2018.com
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