The Irish Eventing team have made history today (Monday) by winning the team Silver Medal at the FEI World Equestrian Games in North Carolina, USA, and in the process have qualified for the 2020 Toyko Olympics, while Tipperary’s Padraig McCarthy has completed a remarkable day for the Irish by also taking individual Silver.
Even the arrival of Tropical Storm Florence to North Carolina failed to halt the Irish march, after torrential rain caused havoc with the competition schedule, moving the final to Monday due to heavy rain, but the wait made this result all the sweeter.
The Irish team of Cathal Daniels, Sam Watson, Padraig McCarthy and Sarah Ennis, managed by Sally Corscadden, finished the three Eventing phases of Dressage, Cross Country and Show Jumping on a final score of 93.0, just over one fence behind Britain who took gold on 88.8. France took home the Bronze on 99.8, with Japan finishing just outside the medals in fourth on 113.9. With Japan hosting the 2020 Olympics, that gave an extra place to Tokyo to those down the line. Germany, Australia and New Zealand join Ireland Britain as France as officially qualified for the Olympic Games.
Ireland had been in seventh place after Friday’s Dressage, but rose to second place after a phenomenal Cross Country performance on Saturday when all Irish team riders jumped clear.
One of the most closely-fought competitions in the history of the Games went right down to the wire in the final Show Jumping phase. Competing as an individual, Cork’s Patricia Ryan was the first Irish rider to jump and went clear with Dunrath Eclipse (ISH) to finish in 61st overall.
Galway’s Cathal Daniels, the youngest competitor in the competition at just 22, finished with just one fence down with Rioghan Rua (ISH) and finished 26th individually on 41.6. Ireland’s second team rider Sam Watson, was under real pressure entering the arena after watching Japan and France produce clear rounds. The Carlow rider kept his cool and guided Horseware Ardagh Highlight to a perfect clear. It saw Watson rise up to 14th individually to finish on his Dressage score of 35.5.
Tipperary’s Padraig McCarthy started the day in seventh place, however a clear round with Mr Chunky not only guaranteed Ireland a medal, but also gave him a chance of a podium finish. Meath’s Sarah Ennis had one fence down with Horseware Stellor Rebound, but kept it at that score to ensure Ireland would take a memorable team silver. It left Ennis in a hugely impressive fifth place individually at the finish on a score of 30.3.
The battle for individual medals was not decided until the very last horse jumped the very last fence. Germany’s Ingrid Klimke looked set to be crowned World Champion when approaching the last fence clear with SAP Hale Bob, but the pole fell to the floor dropping her down to bronze on 27.3, and giving Ireland’s McCarthy the individual silver on 27.2. Britain’s Ros Canter is the new World Champion after her clear round aboard Allstar B saw them finish on 24.6.
Asked about what today’s result means for Irish Eventing, team manager Sally Corscadden said:
“It’s absolutely is huge, we are making history here today when you think about it. I had belief in these guys that we could be competitive and that was our goal the whole time, to be competitive and we just stuck to that goal and this is where it got us. I think we pushed those Brits too and made them a little nervous ” she quipped.
She continued, “There was nothing lucky about this. This was made to happen by the whole set-up and the team behind them, I just can’t tell you how many people have worked to make this happen.”
Asked if it was now all full steam ahead with preparing for Tokyo, Corscadden said, “I might take a couple of days off first.
Ireland’s individual silver medalist, Padraig McCarthy was asked if he felt the pressure when he went into the arena,
“I wasn’t in a medal position [individually] when I went in. I had experience of jumping him in big competitions and he is a very good jumper. In a previous life I used to be a Show Jumper so that gave me a lot of confidence. I had a very good warm up outside and the horse felt brilliant.
Asked if he thought now that it is better to be an Eventer than a Show Jumper, he said “Absolutely”
Horse Sport Ireland CEO Ronan Murphy added:
“I am just so proud of all involved. This is another incredible achievement by our athletes. Our Eventing team manager Sally Corscadden and all her support staff have put in an incredible amount of hard work to make this happen. The athletes themselves have shown professionalism, hard work and dedication. I want to thank Sport Ireland for their extra support given in this World Equestrian Games year and all our very loyal sponsors. Most of all I want to thank the owners and breeders of these wonderful horses and of course all the horses’ grooms who have kept the show on the road under very testing conditions. It is a great day for Irish sport and for the Irish Sport Horse industry as a whole.”
HSI Chairman Joe Reynolds said:
“I want to congratulate Sally and her team on an outstanding result. It takes a special performance and preparation to achieve this level of success and this group have done their country proud. We can now look forward to supporting our Eventing team in the build up to Toyko which is hugely exciting.”
The first World Equestrian Games were held in Stockholm (SWE) in 1990. Co Down’s Dermott Lennon won individual gold in Show Jumping in 2002 at Herez in Spain but today marks Ireland’s first team medal at a World Equestrian Games.
Ireland did previously win a team gold medal in an Eventing World Championships in 1966 at Burghley in Great Britain. with a team that included Virginia Freeman-Jackson, Eddie Boylan, Penelope Moreton and Tommy Brennan.
Ireland will bid for further glory on Wednesday, when the Irish Show Jumping team of Shane Sweetnam, Paul O’Shea, Shane Breen and Cian O’Connor, led by Rodrigo Pessoa begin their World Equestrian Games campaign.
This report was originally published on www.horseportireland.ie