August 13, 2008

Amongst the starting field of 69 horses in the three-day-event competition of the Olympic Games in Hong Kong, 18 (26%) were Irish-bred, and all made it through to the closing stages.

After the cross-country, there were eight Irish horses in the top 15, and the best placed was individual silver medalist Gina Miles's McKinlaigh.

The 14 year-old is a chestnut gelding by Highland King and is owned by Tom Schulz of California. The horse was was bred by Yvonne Walsh of Rainstown in Co. Carlow. Bought at the Goresbridge Horse Sales as a three year-old by Chris Ryan of Scarteen in Co. Limerick, McKinlaigh was broken and produced by the Ryans and went on to win the Young Horse Event Class at Punchestown in Co. Kildare in 1998.

Shortly afterwards the chestnut gelding was bought by Tom and Laura Schulz, but remained at Scarteen long enough to win the 1999 Combined Training Class at Grove in Tipperary and take a second place in its first novice class at Dartfield in Galway the same year.

McKinlaigh went to the USA in 2000, and had 19 wins in the next six years, culminating with victory in the 2006 US Eventing Association Gold Cup. In 2007 Gina Miles and Tom Schulz's Irish-bred horse took a third place in the Pan American Games in Brazil, and finished 15th at Badminton the same year.