OWEN BRENNAN: “Our sporting achievements represent some of what’s best about Ireland”
- 23 May 2019, 21:44
As part of Horse Sport Ireland’s new Blog, STABLE TALK, Mr Owen Brennan, Executive Chairman of Devenish Nutrition and co-sponsor of Ireland’s senior show jumping team, discusses his own personal interest in Irish equestrian sport and why Devenish Nutrition are passionate about supporting sport in Ireland
“Devenish Nutrition’s heritage is in nutrition, but nowadays we describe ourselves as ‘Beyond Nutrition’, Owen begins. “Our vision is for ‘one health – from soil to society’ and a lot of things drive health, that’s partly where our sporting involvement comes from.
“Top-class nutrition is obviously a cornerstone, but exercise is important too and one without the other is much less effective. Sport and exercise is a personal interest, a very big personal interest for my family and at company level.
“At Devenish we realise that sport, at the top level, is demanding for all who participate and one of those demands is financial. It seems a paradox, that those representing Ireland at the highest level in sport often struggle financially to make it happen – that shouldn’t be the case and we [Devenish Nutrition] want to make sure that we make a contribution where we can to help people fulfill their potential. We can’t do everything and we don’t try, but we do as much as we can.
“It is generally underestimated – the standard at which Irish equestrian athletes are performing. Ireland is better known for our performance in horseracing, and while it is wonderful that Ireland has some of the world’s leading trainers and jockeys the same is true for show jumping, three-day-eventing and dressage.”
TOGETHER STANDING TALL
“As an international business we are very conscious of the fact that the teams and athletes we sponsor do more than just compete – they represent our country on the world stage. I think that, although Ireland is a very small country, we as a nation stand large in our own minds and I think the performance of our athletes in international sport is very important to us – our sporting achievements represent some of what’s best about Ireland.
“We are obviously particularly focused on the sport of show jumping. For me, the increase in the number of horses in the World’s top 50 that are in Irish hands has been really striking over the course of the last 20 years. The growth in numbers of Irish riders performing at the very very top level of the sport has also been incredible”.
At present, Ireland has more riders in the Longines FEI top 50 world rankings than any other nation, with eight riders in total.
“I grew up in an era dominated by equestrian stars such as Eddie Macken, Paul Darragh, James Kernan and Captain Con Power”, Owen continues. “But it’s been thrilling to watch their successors many years later and now in much greater numbers. There is greater strength and depth now.”
When asked what the highlight of Devenish Nutrition’s sponsorship of Ireland’s senior show jumping team has been for him, Owen replied: “Our whole sponsorship has been a highlight, but if I had to pick one moment during our term obviously it would be the Irish senior team winning gold at the European Championships in Gothenburg.
“What made that event most notable for me was that we succeeded in doing what we did having lost one combination to injury – we had to compete in a competition where it was the three best scores out of four that counted and we had no option of discarding a score. So I thought that a third-place finish, which is where we looked to be going, would have been astonishing but to win gold under those circumstances seemed to me to be unbelievable. But that’s what happened.”
Last week Horse Sport Ireland invited Owen Brennan to Team Ireland Equestrian’s 2019 show jumping Nation’s cup debut in La Baule, France. Commenting on his experience, Owen said: “It was a pleasure to meet the riders and their managers and to hear of their progress and preparation directly. La Baule is a lovely setting, the facilities were very good and there was great jumping ground – really high quality.
“I walked the Nations Cup track with Rodrigo [Pessoa] and that gave me a unique perspective.
What I learned in particular was just how high the standard is and how hard everyone is working to deliver performance. In addition, I was surprised to see the strength in depth that is being developed at the very top level – both horses and riders . All very impressive, all representing Ireland with great credit on a global stage.
“Well done Horse Sport Ireland and Team Ireland Equestrian.”