Ireland names eventing long list for European champs

June 20, 2009

Horse Sport Ireland's Eventing High Performance Manager Ginny Elliot has named a revised squad from which she will select the Irish team for the European Championships in Fontainebleau, France in September.

The following is the squad in alphabetical order: Declan Cullen, Glenhill Gold; Brian Curran Cournane, Rossbeigh and The Sally Rod; Geoff Curran, Kilkishen and The Jump Jet; Ciaran Glynn, Killossery Kruisita; Louise Lyons, Watership Down; Joseph Murphy, Sportsfield Othello; Austin O'Connor, Pocket Rocket; Sacha Pemble, I've been Dun; Elizabeth Power, Kilpatrick River; George Russell, Young Man; Michael Ryan, Old Road; Patricia Ryan, Fernhill Clover Mist; Sarah Wardell, Killeenduff Boy; Sam Watson, Horseware Bushman.

Declan Cullen and Sarah Wardell were not part of the original training squad of 19 riders selected at the start of the year but have been brought into the squad based on their performances at Tattersalls and Bramham.

Ginny Elliot said that she was naming as many as 14 riders on the squad as it was still over three months from the Championships and that a lot could happen between now and then.

"I believe in competition for places and this regard I have decided to keep 14 riders on board from which six will be selected to go to the Championships. If some riders who are not currently on the squad put in an impressive performance they could also come back into play," she said.

Elliot pointed out that the riders had shown great commitment to the programme, with large number of riders having good results in the past two months and others showing real potential to step up to Championship level. However she cautioned against increasing expectations for the Championships.

"While we have made real progress it is important that we keep things in perspective. Having a team with a medal chance at a championship is a very tall order and we have some way to go before we can count ourselves as genuine medal contenders. However, we are definitely going in the right direction and we are looking forward to working with the riders at upcoming competitions and training days to try and achieve further improvement," she said.

Elliot, who has been with Horse Sport Ireland for just over a year, having joined the new Governing Body in March 2008, highlighted the importance of the squad training days which had been put in place since the start of the year.

"At the start of the year we had to make a choice between whether to concentrate our budget on training days or going to competitions and we made the choice to focus on training. The two squad trainers Ferdi Eilberg in Dressage and Michael Quirke in Show Jumping have made a real difference given that they have only been in place since the start of the year. We also spend time at the sessions examining DVDs of the riders' recent cross country performances and I believe this is proving to be beneficial," she said.

Elliot said that a number of the riders on the list would be competing at Barbury Castle Trials in early July with Hartpury in August being another key target for the squad, while some will be going to Gatcombe.

"Six riders can compete at the Championships with four of these being part of the team. I would hope to be in a position to name the squad of six after Hartpury in August. However those who don't make the Championship squad will still be in the loop with some planning to go to the four star events in Burgley and Pau if they are not going to the Championships. We have also set Blenheim in September as the target for our development squad riders who are not eligible for under age championships," she said.