Rodrigo Pessoa will manage Ireland’s European gold medal-winning show jumping team for at least another year.

The governing body, Horse Sport Ireland, also announced today that Sally Corscadden had signed a two-year extension to her contract as Eventing Senior High Performance Director. The former rider and coach had steered the Irish Eventing team to a silver medal at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina earlier this year, and in the process gained automatic Olympic qualification for the team at Tokyo 2020.

Brazil-born Pessoa took up his post as Show Jumping Senior High Performance Director with the Irish teams in 2017 and delivered the country’s first European gold medal in 16 years at Gothenburg just months later. 

Both managers have also seen their riders receive plaudits that have been absent from equestrian sport’s Irish team profiles for a long time – the European show jumping team of Shane Sweetnam, Denis Lynch, Bertram Allen and Cian O’Connor was voted “ Sports Team of the Year” by RTÉ viewers in 2017, while Corscadden has been nominated for the 2018 RTÉ “Manager of the Year” title, and the Eventers tipped for the team title won by the show jumpers last year.

Ireland’s WEG Eventing team of Sam Watson, Cathal Daniels, Sarah Ennis and Padraig McCarthy with Chef d’Equipe Sally Corscadden.

With Olympic team qualification in the bag, Corscadden’s task now will be to cultivate the best possible Irish Eventing team for 2020.

However, Pessoa faces a steeper climb – Ireland has just two more chances to qualify a show jumping team for the Olympics. One will take place at next year’s European Championships in Rotterdam, where three places are up for grabs, and the other at the Nations Cup Final at which one remaining team place is on offer 

There has been no Irish team at the Olympics for 12 years, despite the presence of world class individual riders and horses, suggesting that show jumping qualification is no easy matter in a discipline where competition at the highest level contains many teams who are replete with both talent and money.

After the Horse Sport Ireland announcement, Pessoa, whose one-year extension to his current contract carries an option to renew for a further year, said: “Being team manager has been an incredible human and sporting experience for me. I have enjoyed all the good times we have had and also learned a lot from any failures which only make us better. Now we turn all our attention to focus on the 2019 European Championships, and qualification for the Olympics is an absolute priority for Team Ireland this year.”

Gerry Mullins, Chairman of the Horse Sport Ireland High Performance Show Jumping Committee added: “I look forward to the close co-operation between our High Performance Committee and the Irish international riders together with their owners who give so generously of their time and horses to the national team effort. Qualification for the Olympics will be the main aim for 2019 and our focus on that starts right now.”

Sally Corscadden commented: “It is a great honour to be representing Team Ireland and leading our world class team of coaches, support staff and riders towards Tokyo 2020. Preparations are already underway and we are looking forward to the exciting challenges ahead on the journey towards podium success for Ireland.”

Ireland’s 2017 European Championship winners Shane Sweetnam, Denis Lynch, Bertram Allen and Cian O’Connor with Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa.