Ireland’s showjumping team manager Robert Splaine has announced his squads for the FEI Nations Cup in La Baule, France (11 May) and the four-star Nations Cup in Lummen, Belgium (4 May).
The La Baule squad, from which four will be chosen, is Jessica Kurten, Denis Lynch, Cian O’Connor, Shane Sweetnam and Niall Talbot with horses to be announced shortly.
“We are back into a challenging year of Nations Cups and, while of course my priority has to be the selection of two horse and rider combinations to fill our individual Olympic slots in London, we are also one of the top eight teams in the world and we will be hoping to acquit ourselves well in the ‘super league’ once again,” said Robert Splaine.
“To get a good start, as we did last year, is a great thing and makes my job significantly easier, so that is what we will try to do. We certainly have more depth in Ireland now – more riders who are better mounted – but it’s a tough year with back-to-back shows. It takes a lot of planning!”
One notable absentee from the squad is Billy Twomey.
“Billy is an exceptional talent but, at this point in time, there are other combinations I wish to try out,” explained Robert. “Billy’s services will be needed and called upon in due course.”
The Lummen team is Shane Breen, Alexander Butler, Edward Doyle and Dermott Lennon.
“Lummen has traditionally been a good testing ground for combinations and I will be looking closely at the team there and at other four-star Nations Cups with the hope of moving some combinations up to the ‘super league’ as the year progresses,” said Robert.
With two individual Olympic places secured, Robert also has to make the decision as to which riders will represent their country in London.
“It’s still early days – obviously I have ideas but I will continue to monitor on an ongoing basis and my final decision will be made after Rotterdam,” said Robert.
“I absolutely want to make sure we have the two best riders to ensure Ireland has the best possible chance of an individual medal.”