The Irish team for Dublin’s Aga Khan competition was announced today by Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa.
As expected, members of last year’s European Championship team have been excluded from the showcase Dublin event because of the imminence of the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in North Carolina, and speculation is of course rife that Pessoa will include the gold medal winners in his panel for the Tryon event, Ireland’s first chance to qualify an Olympic team for Tokyo in 2020.
Flying the flag for Ireland at the Stena Ireland Dublin Horse Show will be:
Billy Twomey – Kimba Flamenco
Cameron Hanley – Quirex
Paul O’Shea – Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu
Mark McAuley – Utchan De Belheme
Pessoa has not yet named his fifth combination for next week’s clash.
It would be wrong to suggest that an exceptional performance from any of the Irish Aga Khan team on Friday would not put them in the spotlight for possible WEG selection next month, but it now seems obvious that Pessoa has four riders already lined up for the vital US fixture, and these would be Bertram Allen, Cian O’Connor, Denis Lynch and Shane Sweetnam.
A talented fifth combination would obviously strengthen Ireland’s hand for the World Games, giving Pessoa the luxury of choice when the selection deadline approaches, so the Irish show jumping high performance committee will no doubt be watching the Aga Khan competition with this in mind.
Pessoa said today about his Aga Khan selection: “We have come off a very successful triple header (Falsterbo, Aachen and Hickstead). We have had a week off and like always we are looking forward to coming to Dublin and hopefully this team can go all the way. There will of course be a lot of expectation for the Aga Khan but this is a very experienced team of riders that will give it everything.”