Weeks of speculation ended this evening when Horse Sport Ireland named Michael Blake as the new Irish senior show jumping High Performance Director.

Blake, who worked as assistant to the former director Rodrigo Pessoa, will now be tasked with steering the Irish squad to a team medal position at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, following their successful qualification at the FEI Nations Cup Final at Barcelona in October this year.

Clare native Blake fulfilled the role of Chef d’Equipe for the Irish Senior Show Jumping team at 18 international shows and Assistant Team Manager at a further 43 international shows. He also worked as Team Ireland Senior Development Jumping Manager during this period.

Michael Blake (right) with former High Performance Director Rodrigo Pessoa during the successful 2019 season.

Blake said this evening: “I am delighted to have been selected by Horse Sport Ireland to be the High Performance Jumping Director and Chef d’Equipe of the Irish Senior Show Jumping team as we prepare for the Tokyo Olympics next August. It is a great honour and indeed a big responsibility to be entrusted with the task of being sole selector of our Olympic team.”

Gerry Mullins, Chairman of the Horse Sport Ireland High Performance Jumping Committee, said: “I would like to congratulate Michael Blake on becoming the High Performance Jumping Director. He has shown tremendous commitment and expertise with success over the last three seasons as Team Ireland Senior Development Jumping Manager. With an enthusiastic and committed team, medal success at the 2020 Olympic Games is a realistic goal and is within this team’s grasp.”

The contract for the members of the High Performance Jumping Committee, who were highly influential in Ireland’s recent show jumping success – adding a European Championship title to the Nations Cup Final victory and the Olympic team qualification – ends on December 31, and it is in the remit of HSI Chairman Joe Reynolds to nominate a new High Performance Committee Chair to join the Showjumping Ireland representative and the Riders’ Representative who will make up the new committee.

-Jack Burns