Four Kilkenny riders and one from Carlow are in action on Friday in the Horse Sport Ireland show jumping masters in the Emerald International Arena in Kildare.
Kilkenny’s Ger O’Neill, Jack Ryan, Eddie Moloney and Susan Fitzpatrick are all involved as is Carlow man Jason Foley.
Jack Ryan is a busy man, he’s a European championship U18 bronze medal winner and a winner of Grand Prix competitions in the Middle East.
Many of Ireland’s top international riders, including those who recently lined-out on FEI Nations Cup duty across Europe and who are in contention for a place on Michael Blake’s Show jumping squad for the Tokyo Olympics, have confirmed that they will be among the field.
Global superstar Denis Lynch are among the European-based riders set to return home to compete and the list of athletes also includes former World Champion Dermott Lennon, and last year’s winner of the Longines Grand Prix of Ireland and nations cup regular Shane Breen.
A large group of Irish riders who are now based in the UK are set to return home including, Michael Duffy, Richard Howley and David Simpson.
Whilst Covid impacted many sports including equestrian sports, the nature of riding a horse has automatically allowed for social distancing and many of the international events have managed to continue, with restrictions, such as no spectators.
Horse Sport Ireland acting CEO Joe Reynolds said the following on their website.
“People still talk about the times when Show Jumping was on live television back in the 80’s at venues such as Millstreet and Salthill and for many people that was their first taste of our sport. This has the potential to be the dawn of a new era and an opportunity to showcase to the Irish public, our exceptionally talented group of Irish riders that are regularly winning competitions on the international stage. It is also a chance to give people a taste of what is in store next year when for the first time in history, Ireland will be represented at the Olympic Games in Tokyo by full teams in Dressage, Jumping and Eventing”.
The event will be run strictly behind closed doors in full compliance with all Covid-19 protocols, including Covid-19 testing of athletes returning from abroad.