Out of the world’s top thirty show jumpers in the Longines FEI Rankings, ten are not among the seventy-five in the hunt for medals at the Olympics in Rio, and three of those are Irish.
The second-highest ranked rider, Simon Delestre of France did get to Rio, but has withdrawn after his horse Hermes Ryan was found to have picked up an injury during the past week.
Of the other nine, the highest ranked of those is Britain’s Scott Brash, who was ranked number one less than a year ago and is currently number six. Brash was part of the British team which won Gold at London 2012 and was expected to be a key figure in their Rio quest until the British Equestrian Federation ruled him out of the selection process in June citing concerns that his top rides may not be fit in time.
Bertram Allen (ranked 13th), Denis Lynch (21st) and Conor Swail (25th) are the three Irish riders in the top 30 who are not at the Olympics. Allen had won Ireland’s sole individual place for Rio, while Denis Lynch was just one place short of qualifying and would have earned a second individual spot for Ireland had any of the other qualifiers pulled out before the entries were finalized.
It is the third consecutive Olympics at which Ireland’s sole representative did not themselves win the qualifying place for the country. Jessica Kuerten netted the spot for Beijing 2008 but it was Denis Lynch who traveled with Lantinus, while for London 2012 it was Lynch who earned the place but Cian O’Connor who participated with Blue Lloyd, winning the Bronze medal.
Greg Broderick has been tasked with carrying Ireland’s hopes with MHS Going Global after being given the selection nod by show jumping manager Robert Splaine. Although ranked 214th, it has to be borne in mind that the rankings, which are updated every month, reflect results in the preceding twelve month period and Broderick was out of action for around half of that in the case of the current figures. The combination have achieved excellent results throughout May, June and July.
The other top 30 riders not involved are Gregory Wathelet (12th), Patrice Delaveau (16th), Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (17th), Olivier Philippaerts (22nd), Hans-Dieter Dreher (26th) and Marco Kutscher (29th).
Additionally, Laura Kraut, who is ranked 24th, is at the Olympic Games as the USA’s team reserve, and will only get to compete for a medal in team and in individual jumping if there is a withdrawal. Mike Dunne
Update Sunday: Germany’s Meredith-Beerbaum will get to compete after all following an injury to Marcus Ehning’s horse Coronado NRW. Ehning is 9th in the Longines rankings.