Ireland’s top show jumping riders this week achieved unprecedented input to Horse Sport Ireland’s high performance programme, and a say in the selection of the next show jumping team manager.

At a meeting on Monday in Dublin, chaired by Liam Moggan from Coaching Ireland, riders expressed their concerns over Ireland’s failure to qualify a show jumping team for the last three Olympic Games, in Beijing, London and Rio, despite the substantial number of highly-ranked individual riders available.

As a result of the meeting, the riders will now have a rider liaison group to interact with the governing body’s decisions on team selections and strategy.

Six people were put forward as representatives of Irish riders in five different regions around the world where Irish equestrian athletes are based and regularly compete – these will be Cameron Hanley, Marion Hughes, Darragh Kenny, Dermott Lennon, Shane Sweetnam and Billy Twomey.

The Irish riders also established that a designated rider representative would be appointed to interface with HSI in, amongst other things, setting the criteria for the role of the next Irish Show Jumping Team Manager, following the expiry this year of Robert Splaine’s contract.

Rider involvement in the governing body’s decision-making process has never before attained this level of strength or penetration, and there is now some optimism amongst the participants that the weaknesses which led to Ireland’s failures in attaining a team place in the past will be replaced by a more informed and capable system that would ensure qualification for the Tokyo Games in 2020.

Jack Burns