Ireland pipped for Rio spot in controversial circumstances

  • 22 August 2015, 01:28

THE Investec Ireland show jumping team today (Friday) came within less than half a point of securing one of the three Olympic qualifying slots available at the final of the European Jumping Championships in Aachen, Germany.

With five of the ten teams who qualified for the final from 22 starters chasing the three Rio slots, Ireland finished fourth in this category and took seventh spot in the overall European team ranking.

Controversially, Ireland’s third rider Cian O’Connor and his nine year-old stallion Good Luck were on course to repeat their clear round from the previous day when a member of the Aachen arena staff inexplicably crossed their tracks on the approach to the final sequence of fences. O’Connor unexpectedly had the next fence down. Irish team officials lodged an appeal with the Aachen ground jury over the incident, and then with the Appeals Committee at Aachen, but without success.

The four penalties attributed to O’Connor were the difference between securing the third Rio qualifying spot, as Ireland lost out by less than half a penalty to Spain.

Before O’Connor’s round, team openers Bertram Allen with Molly Malone and Greg Broderick with the Irish Sport Horse MHS Going Global each had one fence down, but experienced anchorman Denis Lynch, who followed O’Connor, produced a determined final round that left all the poles standing in a outstanding performance under maximum pressure. However, it wasn’t enough, as a subsequent clear from Spain anchorman Sergio Alvarez Moya saw Spain secure the final Rio place.

Speaking after the competition Damian McDonald, Horse Sport Ireland CEO said: “We are very proud of the Irish team’s performance at the European Championships in Aachen. As regards the incident where an arena official crossed Cian O’Connor and his horse Good Luck’s tracks causing interference, we will be examining all of our options provided for within the rules of the International Governing Body the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) including a potential appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)”

The Netherlands were crowned European champions in Aachen’s 44,000-capacity main stadium, while Germany took silver and Switzerland claimed bronze.

The Swiss and Olympic champions Britain joined Spain in securing spots at Rio 2016.

Denis Lynch and All Star 5 delivering a clear round at Aachen today. Picture: Erin Gilmore

Denis Lynch and All Star 5 delivering a clear round at Aachen today. Picture: Erin Gilmore