Controversy as Ireland chooses sole Rio jumping rider

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Greg Broderick and MHS Going Global (ISH) in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup during the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show 2015.
Greg Broderick and MHS Going Global (ISH) in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup during the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show 2015. © Seb Daly / Sportsfile

Ireland’s sole showjumping representative to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be Greg Broderick and the Irish Sport Horse MHS Going Global.

Broderick’s nomination was announced by Horse Sport Ireland Show Jumping Team Manager Robert Splaine on Wednesday.

Greg Broderick's consistent recent form has earned him Ireland's sole Rio showjumping spot.
Greg Broderick’s consistent recent form has earned him Ireland’s sole Rio showjumping spot.

It end several months of disappointment and speculation for Irish showjumpers, who were denied a team spot at the Games after a bizarre field-of-play incident during a crucial contest in Germany last August that decided the last Olympic spots.

The Irish team belived it was on course at the European Championships in Aachen, Germany, to qualify for Rio when a member of the arena fence crew ran in front of Cian O’Connor’s horse, Good Luck.

O’Connor and Good Luck pressed on, knocking the next fence. The four faults incurred resulted in Ireland missing out on Olympic qualification by less than one fault, with Spain taking the spot.

Horse Sport Ireland and O’Connor pursued the matter through official channels all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the highest court in the world for sporting matters. But in January the court dismissed the appeal, upholding the decision of the FEI Appeal Committee from August 22 last year.

However, Ireland is first reserve as a team for Rio.

Bertram Allen had been the rider who had qualified Ireland for the individual spot. Watchers of the sport thought that Allen, who is ranked 10th in the world and who has notched some impressive performances in recent months, would have been a slam-dunk for the Olympic spot.

But Splaine said the final decision on the individual rider to go to Rio had been “very difficult”, and that the four main contenders were strong.

“Greg Broderick and MHS Going Global have been outstanding contributors for Ireland in Nations Cups and have been consistent clear round jumpers at 5 star level. Their performance last weekend in St. Gallen, Switzerland where they jumped a double clear in the Nations Cup to help Ireland to victory, and followed that up with two clear rounds in the Grand Prix, shows they are a combination at the very top of their form.”

The combination were also members of last year’s Investec Irish Show Jumping team at Dublin Horse Show where they jumped a double clear round to help Ireland to victory.

Broderick, who is 252nd in world jumping rankings, told RTÉ Sport that he felt sorry for Bertram Allen, as “he won the spot fair and square. He’s a fantastic rider and he’s a gentleman.

“I did think he was favourite to take it. But I was just thrilled to get the phone call and delighted to be able to represent Ireland at the Olympics. We’ve got the spot and I just have to get stuck in now.”

Allen has not commented on the decision.

Broderick, 31, hails from outside Thurles in Co. Tipperary where he operates Ballypatrick Stables. MHS Going Global is a 10-year-old gelding who is owned by Caledonia stables. He was bred in Kilkenny by Ita Brennan, who passed away recently.

Ireland is currently the first reserve for an individual place and for a team place at Rio. Should an extra team or individual place open up between now and the definite entry date of July 18, Splaine has listed three reserve combinations.

They are, in alphabetical order:

  • Bertram Allen and Molly Malone V
  • Denis Lynch and All Star 5
  • Cian O’Connor and Good Luck

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