Watson and Ryan in top 15 as Ireland bows out of European Team Eventing Championships

  • 12 September 2015, 20:46

A TOUGH cross country course in the European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle Scotland today (Saturday) led to a total of 19 combinations suffering retirement or elimination, including three of the Irish team.

With championship team status no longer achievable, Ireland is now relying on individual riders Sam Watson and Camilla Speirs, along with remaining team member Michael Ryan, who now will also compete as an individual.

Watson and Horseware Lukeswell (ISH) are currently in 13th place, with Ryan and Ballylynch Adventure (ISH) in 14th ahead of Sunday’s final show jumping phase, while Speirs and the diminutive Portersize Just a Jiff (ISH) hold overnight 30th place.

Heavy rain squalls swept former Olympian Ian Stark’s cross country track today as many of the world’s top riders made uncharacteristic mistakes, leading to retirement or elimination. Under FEI rules, a single fall leads to automatic elimination, and this was the fate of first Joseph Murphy and Sportsfield Othello (ISH), then Padraig McCarthy with the gelding Simon Porloe, and finally Austin O’Connor on Balham Houdini (ISH).

The Irish eliminations occurred late in the cross country stage, with riders going well. Clear rounds would have catapulted all three competitors into the top ten this evening, but solace was drawn from the fact that no horses or riders were hurt in the falls.

Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and Russia joined Ireland in failing to get the minimum of three riders home today, and all five nations are no longer competing as teams.

Ireland was not challenging for an Olympic slot at the championships this weekend, having already qualified for Rio at last year’s World Equestrian Games in Normandy.

Germany’s Michael Jung is the overnight individual leader at Blair Castle, ahead of Sunday’s final phase, while the German team has a substantial 11 fences in hand over second-placed Britain, with France in overnight bronze medal position.

Sam Watson on Horseware Lukeswell (ISH)

Sam Watson on Horseware Lukeswell (ISH)