Horse Sport Ireland has finally decided to advertise “nationally and internationally” for its vacant posts of Senior High Performance Directors in Show Jumping and Eventing.

The process has been handed to Lansdowne Executive Search of Stillorgan in Dublin, who are said to have submitted the least costly recruitment plan.

The criteria for a successful candidate, which now appear on the Horse Sport Ireland website, are identical in many ways for both disciplines, with strong emphasis on the “high performance plan 2017/2020 and on performance targets for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games campaign”.

As mentioned before by We Live Horse, Ireland has been unsuccessful in qualifying a show jumping team for the Olympics on three successive occasions – at Beijing, London and Rio – and it is therefore reassuring to see the advertisement for the show jumping director include this sentence: “The position requires leadership, people management, communication and stakeholder management skills to ensure sustainable excellence from competing Irish teams.”

With eight of its riders now in the top 50 of the Longines World Rankings, Ireland has never been in  a stronger position to put together teams that might lay the groundwork for the Tokyo Games by competing successfully not only at Nations’ Cup level, but also in the European  and World Championships.

A talented High Performance director with some vision should be able to use all this horse and rider firepower to put Ireland back into Olympic team contention after a barren and disappointing 12 years. Lack of interference by less experienced people may also aid him or her in this nevertheless challenging task.

The incoming director will have the benefit of a new Chair of HSI’s High Performance Committee, the internationally acclaimed Olympic coach and trainer Gerry Mullins.

The advertisement for the Eventing High Performance Director is very similar to that of the Show Jumping Chef d’Equipe, and the successful candidate will not, one imagines, have such a steep hill to climb with regard to Olympic qualification, given the country’s consistent performances in that discipline at Olympic level.

Horse Sport Ireland says on its website today that “both positions will be advertised both nationally and internationally through Landsdowne (sic) Executive Search, and the closing date for receipt of applicants (sic) is 5pm on Monday January 23rd 2017.”

Part of the Horse Sport Ireland staff website page, still showing Damian McDonald as Chief Executive on January 6, 2017.

At the time of writing no mention is made on the website about filling the vacancy of CEO, held for the interim period by James Kennedy, following the return to the agri sector at the beginning of January of HSI’s original CEO Damian McDonald.

Indeed, at the time of writing HSI’s website has Mr. McDonald still in situ as the company’s Chief Executive Officer, with no mention of Mr. Kennedy. Unless he is currently holding down two jobs, one has to assume that Mr. McDonald’s continuing presence on the HSI staff list is because no one has bothered to update the website since Christmas.

Or could there be some other reason? With HSI, one simply never knows.

Colin McClelland