Horse Sport Ireland medal reception celebrates historic year for Irish Equestrian Sport
- 29 November 2019, 10:04
The stars of Irish Equestrian sport were honoured at the Horse Sport Ireland medal reception yesterday (Thursday), following an incredible year which saw history made as three Irish teams gained Olympic qualification, Irish Youth athletes once again claimed a host of European Championship medals, while Irish Sport Horses secured World Championship titles.
Held at Killashee House Hotel in Naas, Co Kildare, the Horse Sport Ireland medal reception saw a host of Ireland’s top athletes, owners and breeders gather to celebrate a fantastic year for Irish equestrian sport. The event also marked the launch of a new rebranding of Horse Sport Ireland – the governing body for equestrian sport in Ireland.
Guests were welcomed to the reception by Horse Sport Ireland Chairman Joe Reynolds, who congratulated all the athletes on their incredible results during the year. Speaking about Horse Sport Ireland’s achievement of having three teams qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, Reynolds thanked Sport Ireland for their fantastic support without which Olympic qualification would not have been possible.
Among the fantastic results during a record-breaking season, history was made at the FEI European Dressage Championships in Rotterdam during August, when the Irish team of Judy Reynolds, Kate Dwyer, Anna Merveldt and Heike Holstein, led by chef d’Equipe Milan Djordjevic, claimed Olympic qualification for Tokyo 2020 which will be the first time ever that Ireland will have a full Dressage team at an Olympic Games. All four members of the history-making Irish Dressage team were in attendance at the HSI medal reception and along with all Irish medal winners from the season, were presented with special awards.
It was another outstanding year for Irish Eventing, with Cathal Daniels claiming the individual bronze medal at the Eventing European Championships at Luhmühlen in Germany with the Irish Sport Horse mare Rioghan Rua (ISH). Daniels was part of the Irish Eventing squad that included Sam Watson, Sarah Ennis, Padraig McCarthy and Patricia Ryan that secured World Championship team silver and Olympic qualification in 2018 managed by Sally Corscadden.
In October, the Irish Show Jumping squad, of Paul O’Shea, Shane Sweetnam, Cian O’Connor, Peter Moloney and Darragh Kenny, managed by Rodrigo Pessoa and sponsored by Devenish and The Underwriting Exchange, qualified for the Olympics in spectacular style with stunning win in the Longines FEI Nations Cup World Final in Barcelona.
The GAIN Irish U18 (Junior) Show Jumping squad of Kate Derwin, Harry Allen, Jack Ryan, Ciaran Nallon and Seamus Hughes Kennedy, managed by James Kernan, were honoured for their team bronze medal win at the European Championships at Zuidwolde in The Netherlands, where Kate Derwin also claimed individual gold.
The GAIN Irish U16 (Pony) Show Jumping squad of John McEntee, Niamh McEvoy, Tom Wachman, Francis Derwin and Max Wachman, managed by Gary Marshall, took the team gold medal at the European Championships in Strzegom, Poland, where Max Wachman capped a stunning result by also winning individual gold.
The GAIN Irish U16 (Pony) Eventing squad made up of Grace Tyrell, Alex Connors, Brian Kuehnle, Tiggy Hancock, Olivia Swan and Susan Shanahan secured the team bronze medal at the European Championships at Strzegom in Poland under the guidance of team manager Becky Cullen.
Once again Irish horses and riders excelled at the 2019 FEI World Breeding Championships for Young Horses at Lanaken in Belgium. Seamus Hughes Kennedy claimed victory in the 7-year-old World Championship with Cuffesgrange Cavadora (ISH) bred by Eamonn Sheahan and owned by Clare Hughes.
Jason Foley and The Irish Sport Horse Rockwell RC, bred by Ronan Byrne and owned by Kevin Crumley, also took victory for Ireland in the final for 5-year-old horses, while Kildare’s Mikey Pender and Chacco Bay finished as runners-up. Mikey Pender also stood on the podium in the 6-year-old final following another runner-up finish with MHS Cardenta (ISH) bred by Thomas Brennan and owned by Marion Hughes and Miguel Bravo.
Reflecting on a phenomenal season for Irish equestrian sport, Horse Sport Ireland CEO Ronan Murphy commented:
“When I look back on what has been achieved this past year, I am struck by two things – our athletes’ will to win and their team spirit. There is a unified hunger and drive, across all disciplines and age categories, to deliver success for Ireland – it’s truly inspiring.
“I want to congratulate all of our athletes, their parents, coaches and all of our team managers who achieved such incredible success during the past year. We must acknowledge the incredible support of all the owners involved in Ireland’s success and thank our loyal sponsors Devenish and The Underwriting Exchange and our fantastic suppliers Equiline, Horseware, Dubarry, Charles Owen, Berney Bros and TRM. I also would like to thank all of the staff at Horse Sport Ireland for their hard work behind the scenes.”