Horseware founder Tom MacGuinness has become the first Irish rider to qualify for the 2018 World Equestrian Games (WEG).
The 66-year-old was one of six finishers at a testing qualifying race in Spain last weekend (11-12 March).
The 3* 160km race was held at Tordera, an hour north of Barcelona.
Mr MacGuinness qualified with his nine-year-old chestnut gelding Sasha D’Allais, which he keeps in Spain.
The pair qualified for both the European Championships this September and next year’s WEG, to be held in the USA at Tryon International Centre in North Carolina on 10-23 September.
“Tordera was a tough race, there was about 300 metres of strenuous up and down on each loop,” said Mr MacGuinness.
Only half the 12 starters completed the race but with qualification Mr McGuinness’s goal, he decided not to put the horse under too much pressure.
“It is so difficult to actually finish these races, so it is a relief we finished and an even bigger relief we qualified,” he said.
The horse will now have two months off before he starts being prepared for the Europeans in September.
A keen polo player, Mr MacGuinness took up endurance riding in 2012, qualifying for WEG 2014 with a different horse.
He founded Horseware with his wife Carol in 1985 in Dundalk, Ireland, making the Rambo rugs with tough and lightweight materials.
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Today, all Horseware’s Rambo turnouts are still manufactured in Dundalk, where 125 people are employed.
The company employs a further 250 people in its two factories in China, 80 in Cambodia and 36 in the USA.