SALLY CORSCADDEN: My Tokyo 2020 Olympic squad

  • 1 May 2019, 11:16

Horse Sport Ireland Eventing High-Performance Director, Sally Corscadden (Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile)

As part of Horse Sport Ireland’s new Blog, STABLE TALK, Horse Sport Ireland Eventing High-Performance Director, Sally Corscadden gives readers an insight into the sport of eventing and her role and responsibilities as Director.

I am delighted to announce that the following 13 Irish athletes have been selected to be included on the Irish Eventing Squad for the 2019 European Championship and Tokyo 2020 Olympics (referred to as the ‘2020 Tokyo Squad’).

  • Down’s Clare Abbott with Euro Prince (ISH) – owned by Cormac McKay
  • Galway’s Cathal Daniels with Rioghan Rua (ISH) – owned by Margaret Kinsella
  • Meath’s Sarah Ennis with Woodcourt Garrison (ISH) – owned by Breda Kennedy
  • Dublin’s Ciaran Glynn with November Night (ISH) – owned by Susanna Francke and Peter Cole
  • Wicklow’s Aidan Keogh with Pride of Tredstep (ISH) – owned by Patrick Hughes
  • Cork’s Brian Morrison with Global Orchid (ISH) – owned by Brendan Robinson
  • Cork’s Michael Ryan with Dunlough Striker (ISH) – owned by Carol and Tom Henry
  • Cork’s Patricia Ryan with Dunrath Eclipse (ISH) – owned by Carol and Tom Henry
  • Carlow’s Sam Watson with Horseware Ardagh Highlight (ISH) – owned by Belinda Keir; Tullabeg Flamenco (ISH) – owned by Vahe Bogossian; Imperial Sky (ISH) – owned by Cathy Byrne and Hannah Watson
  • Down’s Susie Berry with Stonedge – owned by Devenish Nutrition Limited; Ringwood LB (ISH) – owned by Helen Caton
  • Kildare’s Aoife Clark with Fernhill Adventure (ISH) – owned by Richard Last and Aoife Clark
  • Tipperary’s Padraig McCarthy with Mr Chunky (SHBGB) – owned by Christopher and Sarita Perkins, Huw Lloyd and Lucy Wiegersma
  • Austin O’Connor with Colorado Blue (SHBGB) – owned by The Salty Syndicate

Athletes listed on the Irish 2020 Tokyo Squad will be subject to specific criteria for the European Championships 2019 and Olympic Games in 2020.

To view the European Championship Senior Eventing Athlete Selection Policy click the following link:

Senior Eventing Athlete Selection Policy 2019

If you would like to view the criteria for the selection of the Tokyo 2020 Squad click the following link:

Criteria for the Selection of the Tokyo 2020 Squad

* All combinations listed on the 2020 Tokyo Squad are required to maintain their current form and soundness to remain on the squad for the respective Championship.

For any of the athletes on the squad to be eligible to compete in the eventing competitions at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games they must firstly obtain FEI qualifying results in a CCI 5* long format or 5* Major (2019) or alternatively must obtain FEI qualifying results in a CCI 4* AND in a CIC 4* at selected events which take place between the 1st of January 2019 and the 1st of June 2020.

Tokyo is going to come around really quickly next year, so my hope is that the Irish athletes get the necessary FEI qualifying results by the end of 2019. An FEI qualifying result is achieved by completing the above competitions within the minimum parameters of an all-round performance:

  • Dressage test: minimum 55%percent.
  • Cross Country test: clear (0) round or 11 penalty points on Cross Country Obstacles, not more than 75 seconds over the optimum Cross Country phase time. At “Classics (name TBC)” Events & CCI 5*, the maximum time by which the optimum time may be exceeded is 100 seconds.
  • Jumping test: not more than 16 jumping penalties.

To view the list of Qualification Events for the Olympic Games 2020, click the following link: Qualification Events


Horse Sport Ireland can nominate nine combinations for Tokyo 2020, so I would be hoping to have selected the pool of nine athletes by the end of this year, we would then use the spring to tune these horses up for Tokyo. Only three combinations will ultimately be selected to represent Team Ireland Equestrian at the Olympics along with one reserve.

It’s going to be tough to make the team, it’s really competitive, but we have some of the best riders and horses in the world so I am looking forward to seeing how they perform this season.

The plan is to implement a slightly different Olympic selection system to previous years, the difference being that it is not going to be based on a specific Olympic trial event. The criteria being set for the squad is that they should complete a minimum of two CCI4* long format events and that they set out how they think they will perform at these events in what is called a Performance Outcome Profile. We’re calling them POPs.

Riders will be required to do POPs prior to each event wherein they will set a scoring range for their dressage and cross country. They will all be aiming for clear show jumping rounds, inside the relevant time. The riders will submit their POPs, shortly before the event takes place, so they should have a good idea of how their horse is likely to perform.

The riders with up and coming horses will have to work two CCI4* long format events into their plans which will include meeting the minimum eligibility requirements of the FEI to compete at Tokyo. This new system is  really for the younger horses coming up, they need to get a couple of CCI4* long format events under their belt to have proven form. In Ireland we have such a range of horses in terms of age and mileage so we’ve got to have a system that caters for both. The more experienced horses have to attain the minimum eligibility requirements of the FEI.

Each horse will have its own individual plan for selection and riders have the flexibility to work out how to get their horses to peak at the right time. It’s up to the riders to say where they want to be competitive, where they think they can have their horse ready to be competitive, so they’re not tied in to having to perform at one specific event. But, they’ve got to set the targets and then that’s their benchmark for their performance – so there will be pressure on them to perform at the events they have specified.

The Athlete Selection Policy for the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 is currently being worked on, with a view to publishing in the near future.


Horse Sport Ireland Eventing High-Performance Director



Sally Corscadden was born in Leicestershire and moved to Ireland in 1988, where she met her husband Brendan and set up the now well-known and highly-regarded equestrian training facility that is Grange Farm.

Like many young equestrian enthusiasts, growing up Sally was an active member of the Pony Club, actively participating in everything from mounted games to hunter trials. She also enjoyed foxhunting and followed one of the UK’s most famous hunting packs, the Quorn Hunt of which her father was a member. It wasn’t until the age of 18 that Sally took up the sport of eventing.

Throughout her career as an international rider, Sally won events such as the CIC 3* at Thirlestane Castle, the final trial for the British and Irish European team in 1993, she also recorded wins in CCI’s at Ballindenisk and Blarney. At the 1993 European Championships in Achselschwang, Germany Sally was on the bronze medal-winning team and also placed individual 12th. Sally competed at the 1994 World Equestrian Games in the Hague, Netherlands where her team finished fifth.

Sally’s coaching career began shortly after the 1994 World Equestrian Games, when she became High Performance Coach to the Irish Junior Eventing Team who went on to win the team silver medal at the 1995 Junior European Championships in Gotland, Sweden. Sally also coached the Irish junior and pony teams that won team gold and team bronze at the European Championships in  2008 and 2015 respectively.

Sally became High Performance Manager and Chef d’Equipe of the Irish Young Rider Squad in 2011 and in her first year Irish riders claimed the Team Silver Medal and Individual Bronze Medal at the Young Rider European Championships at Blair Castle, Scotland.

Sally is now the Eventing High-Performance Director at Horse Sport Ireland and manages the Senior Irish Eventing Team who won team and individual silver at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina and became the first Irish sports team to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.


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