Showjumping high-performance manager
WE have 32 Irish athletes competing in FEI competition at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), 17 of which have competed at senior Nations Cup level and many of these athletes are on the longlist for the Olympics.
We also have high-performance athletes competing on the Sunshine Tour in Spain, Oliva, Vilamoura in Portugal and four athletes are travelling to Doha in Qatar - these competitions are a really great way for our athletes to build back up to being competitive at the top level.
Target Nations Cups
I’m now looking toward the 2021 Nations Cup season which will prepare Ireland for the Olympics and the European Championships. The four-star Nations Cup here at WEF at the beginning of March will be our first.
The plan then is to also field teams at the five-star Nations Cups in La Baule, Rome, Aachen, Rotterdam, Hickstead, Dublin and Spruce Meadows. How combinations develop over the coming weeks will really define the opportunities given for the remainder of the year.
This year is unique in that we have two major Championships, a Europeans and an Olympics and I think Ireland is in a strong position given that we have more riders in the world’s top 100 than any other nation. We are also very fortunate to have owners who continue to support Irish riders and Team Ireland.
Eventing high-performance manager
WE are currently training online in both dressage and show jumping. For early season training it’s been useful, it’s been a great way to keep in touch with the UK-based riders and to keep owners involved.
The eventing athletes are all taking part in a six-week aerobic fitness programme with Joe O’Connor. Twice a week they are doing pilates with our team physio, Clare-Maria Currie. They also have regular check-ins with a nutritionist and sport psychologist. The support from Sport Ireland is so important to help keep us focused on the Olympics.
We hope to get our campaign underway towards the end of March. Target events for this year will be Ballindenisk, Millstreet, Luhmuhlen, Chatsworth and Badminton. We should have four or five runners at Badminton.
The eventing high-performance athletes are in a really good place with their training and hopefully, when they do get going, we will see an improvement in performances.
Dressage high-performance manager
LAST year our training moved online. Our athletes adapted to this very well and I am able to watch and coach the riders in real time through an online video feed and sound system. This training took place in Greenogue Equestrian and it is wonderful that we will now have this facility at our disposal for all high-performance training.
Anna Merveldt and Esporim have had some excellent results on the World Cup circuit. Dane Rawlins and Espoire are to compete in Doha and I look forward to seeing how they perform. Some of the other riders are just bringing their horses back in to work after a break so I will be monitoring their progress.
I have been doing weekly training sessions with the high-performance development squad and I am delighted to announce that Carolyn Mellor has now moved up from the development squad to the senior squad.
Para-equestrian dressage high-performance manager
IRELAND has qualified two individual athletes for the Tokyo Paralympics. I am very happy with the effort being put in by all members of the squad. We train online twice per month and once per month the athletes each send me a video of them riding a full dressage test. In January a four-star Judge reviewed the athlete’s test and we gained some valuable insight into where athletes can improve their marks.
Dr Tamsin Addison and Donna Siesta will get their 2021 campaign underway this week. They compete in the CPEDI3* at CHI Al Shaqab in Doha, Qatar and I look forward to seeing how they perform. Tamsin and Michael Murphy are both hoping to compete in Mâcon, France next month.