Connolly’s RED MILLS Ambassador Sam Watson with Horseware Lukeswell (ISH), finished as the best placed Irish rider, in 12th place overall at the FEI European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle, Scotland yesterday (Sunday).
Carlow-born Watson produced a perfect clear show jumping round to finish on a total of 59.30 penalties.
Cork’s Michael Ryan finished 14th individually on Ballylynch Adventure (ISH) with a total score of 61.10, while another RED MILLS Ambassador, Kildare’s Camilla Speirs aboard Portersize Just a Jiff (ISH), completed on a score of 79.50, to leave her in 29th place.
Saturday’s tough cross country course at Blair Castle Scotland led to a total of 19 combinations suffering retirement or elimination, including three of the Irish team.
Heavy rain squalls swept former Olympian Ian Stark’s cross country track as many of the world’s top riders made uncharacteristic mistakes, leading to retirement or elimination. Under FEI rules, a single fall leads to automatic elimination, and this was the fate of first Joseph Murphy and Sportsfield Othello (ISH), then Padraig McCarthy with the gelding Simon Porloe, and finally RED MILLS Ambassador Austin O’Connor on Balham Houdini (ISH).
The Irish eliminations occurred late in the cross country stage, with riders going well. Clear rounds would have catapulted all three competitors into the top ten overnight, but solace was drawn from the fact that no horses or riders were hurt in the falls.
Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and Russia joined Ireland in failing to get the minimum of three riders home and all five nations could no longer compete as teams.
Ireland was not challenging for an Olympic slot at the championships this weekend, having already qualified for Rio at last year’s World Equestrian Gamesin Normandy.
Germany’s Michael Jung was the individual Gold medallist at Blair, riding Fischer Takinou, with Silver also going to a German combination, Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo, while France’s Lt. Col. Thibaut Vallette and Qing du Briot claimed the Bronze.
Germany also took Team Gold, with Great Britain in Silver and France taking Bronze.