Shake-up to Irish Olympic eventing team as potential medallist withdrawn

  • Potential medallists Cathal Daniels and Rioghan Rua will not start the Olympic eventing competition at the Tokyo Games in a major shake-up to the Irish Olympic eventing team.

    Rioghan Rua passed the first horse inspection, but in a statement this afternoon (29 July) Horse Sport Ireland said Cathal had been forced to withdraw the mare before the dressage for “veterinary reasons”.

    Cathal will be replaced by alternate Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue, whom he co-owns with the Salty Syndicate. The team will not incur a penalty for the substitution as it is taking place before the competition starts.

    A spokesman for Horse Sport Ireland said Cathal and Rioghan Rua will now revert to being the reserve combination and can be called upon if required later in the competition – “only if the veterinary report improves”.

    Cathal and Rioghan Rua have been a partnership since 2013 when Cathal was 16. The pair were part of the gold medal-winning team at the junior European Championships in 2013 and 2014, and have gone from strength to strength at senior level. In 2019 the pair won individual bronze at the 2019 European Championships at Luhmühlen.

    “Obviously this is really tough for Cathal and for Rioghan Rua’s owner and breeder Margaret Kinsella, particularly with it happening so close to the start of the competition. We did everything we could and gave the mare every chance to be ready, but unfortunately we were forced to make a decision and, of course, horse welfare is always paramount for everyone,” said Sally Corscadden, Irish eventing team manager.

    “Austin now steps in and he is ready to go. We are very lucky to have someone of Austin’s calibre to step in, he is in great form, we still have a very strong team and are looking forward to the start of competition.”

    Austin joins Sam Watson on Tullabeg Flamenco and Sarah Ennis and Woodcourt Garrison on the team.

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