The Irish Show Jumpers are having the worst week ever. First they got official confirmation that the corruptly purchased Ukrainian show jumping team would in fact be allowed to keep their team slot to Rio. Then they lost their shot at a repeat win of the FEI Nations Cup on home soil at the Dublin Horse Show in a freak last fence refusal in the jump-off.
Today, team coach Robert Splaine announced that Cian O’Connor is the reserve rider for the Olympic Games, which is not in and of itself a terrible thing, but in the midst of all the other Olympic drama that’s haunted the Irish this year, it’s no joyful matter.
Cian was named to the reserve slot with his steady and marvelous companion Good Luck after putting on a double clear performance in the Nations Cup class in Dublin, followed by clinching fourth in the Grand Prix, making him the best-placed Irish in the Dublin Horse Show’s finale class. It’s an honor, but it’s also weird.
The announcement comes weeks late and with little fanfare. It’s an insult to injury moment not only for Cian, who is currently ranked 49th in the world, but also for Bertram Allen, ranked ninth in the world and the reason Ireland has an Olympic slot at all (based off his global rank). Both have had to sit on the sidelines for these games to make way for Greg Broderick, ranked 221st, who is taking Ireland’s lone slot.
Robert Splaine said: “Greg Broderick and MHS Going Global confirmed their well-being for the upcoming Olympic Games at Rio De Janeiro by jumping a superb double clear in the Aga Khan trophy at Dublin on Friday, helping Ireland finish on a zero score. Cian O’Connor and Good Luck have shown outstanding form at his most recent outings in top competition at Knokke in Belgium, Aachen in Germany and Dublin where he was also double clear in the Aga Khan and fourth in the Grand Prix. We are very lucky to have such an outstanding combination standing by.”
Bertram has not made a public comment, but Cian’s only response via his Facebook page was, “But late than never, I suppose.”
We’ll hope to see the full fighting Irish back in team form for the next world championship event in 2018, assuming there is one.