Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar officially opened the National Horse Sport Arena at the National Sports Campus in Blanchardstown on Wednesday, 9th October, 2013.
The magnificent new arena has been established within the Walled Garden of Abbotstown House, a protected structure. It will give Irish equestrian athletes access to world-class facilities which have been developed in accordance with the High Performance training needs of equestrian riders and under the technical guidance of Horse Sport Ireland and its affiliate bodies. The National Horse Sport Arena is the first publicly owned facility of its kind in Ireland; it will be managed by the Operations Company of the National Sports Campus; and it will be available on a ‘community commercial’ basis to those who are aspiring for success in international competition.
Performing the opening of the National Horse Sport Arena, Minister Leo Varadkar said:
“This is the next major milestone in the development of the National Sports Campus. The National Horse Sport Arena is the first public facility of its kind in Ireland and will provide world-class facilities for 25 different equestrian sports.
“The National Sports Campus is now the first place in Europe where modern pentathletes can train in all five disciplines on a single campus. It’s been a real privilege to see Irish pentathletes and equestrian athletes do so well in the last couple of years. I am confident that this investment will result in more medals and trophies for Ireland in the near future.”
Horse Sport Ireland Chairman, Professor Patrick Wall, said the new National Horse Sport Arena was an exciting development for equestrian sport.
“This new facility will be extremely helpful in providing a World class surface for our top rider/horse partnerships to train on. In addition it will be great for our riders, who are also athletes, to have the opportunity to avail of all the other facilities on the National Sports Campus and to have the opportunity to use the coaching and rehabilitation services available to the other human athletes.
“Our senior and young riders are on a roll at the moment and the facilities on the campus will help to build on this success and tee us up for medals in the World Equestrian Games and the Olympics in Rio,” Professor Wall said.
In welcoming Horse Sport Ireland onto the Campus, Mr Sean Benton, Chairman of the National Sports Campus Development Authority drew attention to developments at the Campus over the past year and in particular:
- The completion of vital Infrastructure Works and an Access Roadway which open up the entire site for development;
- The allocation of sites for development by the GAA, FAI, Irish Hockey and the IRFU respectively in partnership with the Authority;
- The new Multi-Sport Synthetic Pitches and Pavilion which are nearing completion;
- The completion of a new National Diving Training Centre – a high-performance dry-land training facility;
- Completion of the National Modern Pentathlon Centre – a high-performance indoor training facility for Fencing and Pistol Shooting;
- The opening of Irish Sport HQ as an administrative base for 19 National Governing Bodies (NGBs);
- The world-class National Horse Sport Arena which was officially unveiled here today.
In parallel with the development of the core National Sports Campus facilities, NSCDA has pursued a strategy of redeveloping and refurbishing the existing buildings on the Abbotstown site for use by the wider sporting community, in particular the National Governing Bodies of Sport. It is intended that those buildings which can be cost effectively refurbished for new uses and which do not constrain the Master Plan for the Campus facilities will be retained. To date this has included the provision of office accommodation for the (FAI), the Football Association of Ireland, the Irish Institute of Sport and the 19 NGBs which are now accommodated in Irish Sport HQ.
The development of the Equestrian and Modern Pentathlon facilities followed this broad approach – i.e. to re-use, where possible and economical, the existing buildings to the benefit of Irish sport.
The National Horse Sport Arena has been established in the Walled Garden of Abbotstown House, a protected structure. It has been developed in accordance with the High Performance training needs of equestrian riders and under the technical guidance of Horse Sport Ireland and its various affiliate bodies (see Appendix). It is the first publicly-owned facility of its kind in Ireland; it will be managed by the Operations Company of the National Sports Campus; and it will be available on a ‘community commercial’ basis to those who are aspiring for success in international competitions.
The National Modern Pentathlon Centre has been established through the re-development of farm building which were previously used by the Department of Agriculture. High Performance training facilities in the disciplines of both Fencing and Pistol Shooting have been installed. These are 2 of the 5 disciplines which constitute the Modern Pentathlon – the other are Running, Swimming and Horse Riding – all of which can now be accommodated at the one location in the National Sports Campus. There is no other facility in Europe which can facilitate the 5 disciplines of Modern Pentathlon on one site. Irish Modern Pentathletes qualified for the Olympic Games in London in 2012 for the first time ever. These new purpose-built training facilities will be a great boost to their future efforts in preparation for international competition.
The National Diving Training Centre has been established in a refurbished farm barn and is primarily geared towards dry-land training for divers. The primary high-performance pool for Diving is located in the National Aquatic Centre which is already on Campus. This new facility will assist divers in developing an efficient world-class ‘diving-programme’ both in terms of participation and performance.
The concept of a National Sports Campus was first mooted in 1999. In November 2005 the Government approved the commencement of the development of Phase One of a National Sports Campus. A Masterplan for the site of 500 acres was drawn up in April 2008. Planning Permission for the whole development site was successfully achieved in August 2009. Due to the economic downturn it was decided that work on the Campus should proceed on a phased and incremental basis. The anchor building on the Campus, the National Aquatic Centre had already been delivered in 2003 in time for the Special Olympics World Games. As part of the overall development of the Campus on a phased basis it was agreed that the major field sports – Gaelic Games, Rugby, Soccer and Hockey – would each be granted permission to develop their own part of the Campus. The Authority has made limited “Matching funding” available to enable the works to get underway. All works will be carried out in line with the overall Masterplan for the Campus.
Appendix: List of HSI Affiliates
ARMY EQUITATION SCHOOL (DEPT. OF DEFENCE)
ASSOCIATION OF IRISH RIDING CLUBS (AIRC)
ASSOCIATION OF IRISH RIDING ESTABLISHMENTS (AIRE)
CARRIAGE DRIVING SECTION OF HSI
FEDERATION OF IRISH POLO CLUBS (FIPC)
HUNTING ASSOCIATION OF IRELAND (HAI)
IRISH HARNESS RACING CLUB (IHRC)
IRISH LONG DISTANCE RIDING ASSOCIATION (ILDRA)
IRISH POLOCROSSE ASSOCIATION (IPA)
IRISH PONY CLUB (IPC)
IRISH PONY SOCIETY (IPS)
IRISH SHOWS ASSOCIATION (ISA)
IRISH UNIVERSITIES RIDING CLUBS ASSOCIATION (IURCA)
MEDICAL EQUESTRIAN ASSOCIATION (MEA)
MOUNTED GAMES ASSOCIATION OF IRELAND (MGAI)
PARA EQUESTRIAN IRELAND (PEI)
REINING & WESTERN SECTION OF HSI
RIDING FOR THE DISABLED ASSOCIATION – IRELAND (RDAI)
ROYAL DUBLIN SOCIETY (RDS)
SHOWJUMPING IRELAND (SJI)
SIDE SADDLE ASSOCIATION OF IRELAND (SSAI)
TREC IRELAND (TOURISM RELATED EQUESTRIAN COMPETITIONS)