The quintet to represent Ireland at the European Show Jumping championships was announced last Monday and in alphabetical order was listed as below:
Darragh Kerins; Night Train (Owner Double H Farm)
Denis Lynch; Lantinus (Owner Flaminia Straumann)
Cian O'Connor; Rancorrado (Owner Aileen Bryan)
Thomas Ryan; Urleven van de Helle (Owner Gloria Eschenbach)
Billy Twomey; Je t'Aime Flamenco (Owner Sue Davies)
As we were coming closer towards the championships and content with our preparation everything seemed to be running smoothly. But as my late grandmother used to say: "If something seems too good to be true, it usually is!"
Yesterday Horse Sport Ireland issued a statement that said: "Denis Lynch and 'Lantinus' will not now be part of the Irish squad due to compete at the European Show Jumping Championships in Windsor, England later this week. The bay gelding 'Lantinus' was withdrawn from the squad today due to a slight injury which means that under veterinary advice the horse will have to be rested for about four weeks."
Initially when I heard the news I was surprised and shocked, as Lantinus and Denis have clearly been the backbone of the team this season. It's a major blow, obviously, but as riders the rest of the team can't dwell on it and have to think positively that we can do the job. I believe that Cameron Hanley will take his place with SIEC Livello and following the warm up class tomorrow night (Tuesday) the Irish chef d'equipe Robert Splaine will decide the four man team, while the fifth rider will be able to take part in the non championship classes.
There seems to be a pattern since I came into the top level of the sport that there is all the hype and talk at the start of the year as to what riders will or will not go to the championships, but always at the end of the day it seems to be s struggle to get four sound horses capable of jumping at this level.
Sometimes it can be blamed on bad planning, bad stable management, and in this case probably just bad luck. There's no point in denying that it will be an uphill battle for us to achieve a medal at Windsor, but i still think not impossible. All five combinations have jumped clears in 1m60 classes this year. If we can reproduce this form and pull together in the days ahead, I wouldn't bet against us coming home with a medal of some descr
The Championships start on Tuesday with a warm-up class, Wednesday is a Table C which is the first leg of the individual competition and counts for the team medals. Friday will have the two rounds of the Nations' Cup which will then decide the team placings, and Sunday will be the Grand Prix and the final of the individuals.
I have planned and prepared Rancorrado for this and nothing else all year. I will be disappointed if we don't finish within the top 10 individually.
Check back to the site during the week for updates. Fingers and toes crossed - we need it!