Irish Show Jumping manager Michael Blake signs contract extension with Horse Sport Ireland – James Kernan and Gary Marshall also reappointed

  • 21 January 2022, 10:39

Horse Sport Ireland are delighted to confirm that Irish Show Jumping team manager Michael Blake has signed a new contract extension, keeping the Co Clare native in his current role as Irish Show Jumping High Performance Director throughout the current Olympic cycle into 2024.

Blake took up his position as team manager and Chef d’Equipe towards the end of the 2019 season, having previously held the roles of Senior Jumping Development Manager and Assistant Team Manager to the Irish Senior Show Jumping team.

High-Performance Jumping Director at Horse Sport Ireland Michael Blake has signed a contract extension through to 2024

Despite much disruption to the international Show Jumping calendar during the past year due to Covid-19, Blake has continued his inclination for giving young riders experience at Senior Nations Cup level, handing several riders their senior debut and he also selected a youthful squad for the 2021 European Championships in Germany. Blake also guided Ireland to three memorable Nations Cup victories during 2021 at Vilamoura in Portugal, Peelbergen in The Netherlands and Drammen in Norway, while he was also at the helm when Ireland scored a fantastic runner-up finish in the 2021 Longines FEI Nations Cup Finals in Barcelona against the world’s best teams.

Michael Blake pictured on the podium with his team following victory in the 2021 Portuguese Nations Cup in Vilamoura (Photo: Vilamoura Equestrian Centre)

Michael Blake’s role going forward will also see him become even more involved with Ireland’s Youth Show Jumping programme, working in collaboration with the team managers of Irish teams from Pony (U16) level up to the Young Rider grade (U21).

Speaking this week, Michael Blake said:

“I am delighted that Horse Sport Ireland have extended my contract for the Paris Olympic cycle. We also have the World Championships to look forward to in Herning, Denmark this year and many other five-star Nations Cups around the World. I am excited, as there is an extensive pool of exciting young riders coming along; in addition to the older more experienced riders that we have. I am also pleased to have a role to play with the Youth teams this year, as this was where it all started for me.

“I would like to thank Horse Sport Ireland, the Board, the riders, their accompanying families and teams and of course a big thank you to all of our owners and sponsors for their continued support. With the help, dedication and commitment of our extensive list of riders, I am really looking forward to our continued success.”

Horse Sport Ireland are also happy to confirm that following an interview process, James Kernan has been reappointed as Youth (U14, U18 & U21) Show Jumping team manager and is contracted until October 31st 2024.

James Kernan has over the past number of years, managed numerous Irish youth riders to medal success at European level and commented:

“I am very happy to continue in my role as Youth team manager. We have some great horses and riders to choose from this year across all age groups and we are very hopeful of winning more medals for Ireland at this year’s European Championships.”

Gary Marshall has also been reappointed as Pony (U16) team manager until October 2024. Marshall has managed the Irish pony team to multiple European medals and Nations Cup victories and is looking forward to the season ahead:

“We are very lucky to have fantastic pony riders to choose from in Ireland and I have no doubt that we will be very competitive again this year. I am delighted to renew my contract with Horse Sport Ireland for a further three years and am looking forward to continuing to work with the riders, sponsors and all at Horse Sport Ireland.”

Horse Sport Ireland CEO Denis Duggan added:

“We are delighted that all three of our Show Jumping High Performance team managers are to continue in their current roles, giving stability to our High Performance Programmes. They have all in the past provided strong leadership at the top level of the sport and their experience and commitment will be hugely important for what promises to be an exciting season ahead.”