The outfit should have everything Irish equestrian sports fans would expect from their team. But in the jump-off, a more experienced team will start with medal potential.
Team boss Michael Blake named the following couple:
- Daniel Coyle Mitt Legacy (Sangerscheider v. Chippendale Z)
- Cian O’Connor (Cardento’s Holsteiner) with C4
- Darragh Kenny (Cartani’s Holsteiner) with Cartello
- Denis Lynch vs. Brooklyn Heights (BWP vs. Nabab de Reve)
- Bertram Allen v. Pacino Amiro (ISH v. Pacino)
- Trevor Breen with Highland President (KWPN v. Clinton).
So Cian O’Connor is not relying on his Olympic horse, Kilkenny, but on Si Weir, who was part of the German silver team at the European Championships in Riesenbeck last year with David Will. Kilkenny did not go to an international tournament after the Olympic Games, where he suffered a nosebleed. It was only at the start of the month that O’Connor started graying again in the smaller classes of the Two-Star Tour at Noke. Team boss Michael Blake has high hopes for the new partnership with C Wear:
Cian O’Connor has jumped at several championships and was the highest-placed Irishman at the last Olympics. He has a promising new partnership with C Weir, a pair that has been evident in two Nations Cups. He is an improving horse at the highest level.
Blake made similar comments about the other couples she chose. Speaking of Denis Lynch, he said: “Dennis has a wealth of experience and although Brooklyn is still new to him, both have been very consistent, winning the Rome Grand Prix along the way.”
Cartello and Darragh Kenny are also “a couple who know what it takes at this level”. Cartani was “excellent” in last year’s Nations Cup final in Barcelona by Holstein Grey. He’s had a great season so far and won in Mexico City (where they won two five-star games).
Daniel Coyle and Legacy impressed the team boss with their performances in Florida, but above all they came back and were doubly clear at the Nations Cup in Rome.
Bertram Allen and Pacino Amiro celebrated their first major win in Wellington when they won the CSI5* Grand Prix there and also won the Global Champions Tour tournament in Stockholm in June. They will also go to Herning, but will probably become reservists.
Trevor Breen and the Highland president are designated as non-traveling reservists, meaning they call home. Blake sees them as “a promising future couple” and Highland President as “a very interesting horse”.
Ireland’s dressage riders are trained by Johan Hinnaman. His choice for Herning is:
- Alex Baker with the Dutchman
- Sorrel Klatzko with Turbo
- Abigail Lyle Mitt Giraldo
- Anna Merveld Mit Esporim
Dane Rawlins with Espoir is the home reserve on call.
Jo Hinniman said: “The selected couple are a mix of experienced Anna Merveldt and emerging athletes such as Sorel Klatzko, Abigail Lyle and Alex Baker, with Dane Rawlins coming into the squad as reserve. I’m incredibly happy to have a couple of new additions to the championship team. My program is simple. I want to encourage local talent to compete at the highest level in dressage and compete on the world stage. We are now experiencing the biggest increase in new couples in Ireland in a single year.
He said of his ambitions at Herning: “‘Our aim is a place in the top twelve and every couple can give their best with the European Championships in 2023 and the ultimate goal in Paris in 2024 in mind.’
Alex Baker, 26, has already represented Ireland at the Young Riders European Championships. With her 14-year-old KWPN Dutch, she began jazz at the Jungreiter level. She has been in Grand Prix racing since 2020. Her best Grand Prix result to date was 67.522% at CDI Wellington in June.
Sorel Klatskos (42) is the son of Totilas, a nine-year-old Westphalian from Turbo Falbala. Floresten-Ehrentens, bred by Gudrun Eisenbeck-Gew in Hamill. Sorrell Clatsko dam was introduced to the tournament. Their international career started with Turbo. He with her. The gelding was only eight years old when he was first introduced at Grand Prix level last year. Her best result to date was 67.565% in June at the CDI3* in Jardy, France.
Abigail Lyle (37) is also inexperienced in the Championship. Her Giraldo is an eleven-year-old KWPN gelding by Russo that she trained herself. Both made their Grand Prix debuts in 2021 and have steadily improved since then. She achieved her personal best with 69.457 per cent at the Grand Prix in Hartpury last weekend.
Anna Merveld, 59, who lives in Germany, has represented Ireland at two Olympic Games, five World Cups and nine European Championships. In 2017 and 2019, she sat in the saddle of Lusitanos Esporim. The pair got the finishing touches before Herning at Fritsens last weekend, where they finished seventh in the Grand Prix with 69.587 percent and twelfth in the Special (68.362).
Dane Rawlins (66) had already competed in the 2013 championships in Herning, then the European Championships. However, this year, he will only get a chance if one of the other couples fails. Espoir Rollins is a 13-year-old Westphalian gelding bred and trained by himself. In 2018 the gelding competed in his first Grand Prix. Her best Grand Prix result to date was 67.348% at the 2020 Doha Grand Prix.
Rawlins, along with team boss Joe Hinnemann, was one of the biggest critics of the federation’s decision not to send the team to the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo because of a couple that qualified in Rotterdam in 2019 (eg. Judy Reynolds and Vancouver were no longer available.
Travel fan. Freelance analyst. Proud problem solver. Infuriatingly humble zombie junkie.