IRISH show jumpers embark on the first of a series of competitions in France today (Tuesday) that could lead to Olympic qualification.
The World Equestrian Games in Normandy have already seen Ireland’s Three-Day Event riders book a place for Rio in 2016, as one of the top six teams to finish, but the show jumpers must be in the top five when their series of competitions ends later in the week.
A total of 153 horse-and-rider combinations from 53 nations will take part in the Jumping section of the Games, and by Sunday the Individual Final will see the field eventually narrowed down to just four riders and horses, from which the World Champion will emerge. Ireland last had a World Champion in 2002, when Co. Down’s Dermott Lennon took the trophy.
However, all eyes will be on the vital Olympic qualification places when the 35 national teams begin their Nations’ Cup contest on Wednesday.
Ireland’s first rider into the arena this morning for the opening speed competition is Offaly’s Darragh Kenny with Imothep, drawn a daunting second to jump in the 153-strong field.
He will be followed by 19 year-old Wexford rider Bertram Allen on Molly Malone V, drawn 40th to compete, then by Mayo’s Cameron Hanley and Antello Z (81st). Tipperary’s Denis Lynch and All Star 5 are drawn 119th to jump.
Points gained today will count for both the individual and team rankings.