I am just sitting in Cincinnati airport waiting to board the flight to Newark and then Dublin. The Alltech FEI WEG was a huge success. Packed crowds watched all disciplines and for those who stayed throughout the Alltech festival, they were treated to a lot more than just horses. The Irish team were guests of Dr Lyons from Alltech at a lunch in the Makers Mark Marquee followed by an evening with Kenny Rogers in the opera house in Lexington. It was great craic and when he sang 'The Gambler' I thought it was worth coming just to hear that alone!
As I've said in my WEG diary we were all deeply disappointed with the team’s result, especially knowing that these same horses and riders won over what was arguably a stiffer track in Aachen just a few months ago.
I hear rumblings already of people concerned about the cost of sending us all here which I've read to be around €300k. Just to put this into perspective for you, the American riders have much larger resources at their disposal than most. They have held trials for these games, have a much larger pool of riders and horses to choose from than other countries and have the added advantage of a U.S. course builder whose track they are familiar with jumping. The result of all of this is - no Olympic qualification for the team and no individual medal.
Next we can compare with the team from Saudi Arabia, who have reportedly spent €10m on horses and did achieve an individual silver medal with Abdullah al Sharbatly’s tremendous performance all week.
These comparisons are self explanatory and the reality of the situation is the Irish federation is never going to be able to afford the horses that we need at this level so all they can do is offer us support, help to defray costs and offer bonuses for performance, all of which they do presently.
These small nuggets ease the pain on our owners who keep these expensive horses and make them available to the Irish team- please think twice before criticising HSI's spending on us or I might just have to enter the debate!!
On a positive note it's great for Ireland that Alltech, an Irish company founded by an Irishman was the first title sponsor ever of a WEG. Their support and enthusiasm for the sport gives a new lease of life and great hope going forward for show jumping, especially given the tough times the world is facing.
As I drove from the Horse Park to the airport today I commented on the beauty of the various different colours that were evident on the trees as the seasons change. We had built our hopes on delivering the goods at these championships but unfortunately it wasn't to be. Like the changing of the seasons, it is time to regroup, set new targets and move to the next chapter.
After the Nations Cup this week, a wiser man than I reminded me of what Rudyard Kipling once said: "If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same....”
Back to normality tomorrow, for a while anyway!!