HORSE Sport Ireland has nominated the athlete-and-horse combination of Abigail Lyle and Giraldo for consideration by the Olympic Federation of Ireland to represent Team Ireland in Individual Dressage at the Paris Olympics.

Dressage High Performance Director Anne Marie Dunphy has chosen the combination, as well as individual reserves Anna Merveldt with Esporim, and Judy Reynolds with Rockman Royal NG, for the competition, which starts on July 30th.

Posting on social media due to a moratorium on public commentary, Lyle said it was “so hard to put into words what this means”.

“When I moved to England in 2009, my ultimate goal was to do a PSG [Prix St Georges]. So to say that [the] Olympics was beyond my wildest dreams is a teeny understatement!” she said.

“So many people have led me, propped me up, walked beside me and contributed in so many ways to get to this. There’s so many to thank! But the first and most important to thank is Arty (Giraldo).

“Arty, you have no idea what you’ve done for me and I’ll spend the rest of our lives making sure you feel like the most loved horse in the world and that you never ever want for anything.”

Dunphy said: “It is a huge honour and privilege for Irish Dressage to be represented at the Paris Olympic Games. We are very fortunate to have three such accomplished athletes to choose from and I would like to congratulate them, the owners of the horses and their support teams on their hard work and commitment to the HSI High Performance Programme throughout the selection process.

“I would like to thank the Irish dressage community as a whole, the OFI, Sport Ireland, Dressage Ireland and Horse Sport Ireland in particular for their continuing support.”

As per Article 607 of the FEI Olympic Regulations, HSI will formally submit, before the deadline of June 24th, the three combinations to the FEI and the nominations are subject to the expiry of the HSI appeals window and selection by the OFI.

Olympic selections for eventing and show jumping are expected to be announced by Horse Sport Ireland early next week.

Recent form

On the competition circuit, Lyle scored 71.475% with Giraldo for fifth place in the Grand Prix Kür (Freestyle to Music) class at the four-star international dressage show in Le Mans, France, last Friday, May 31st. This followed on from their win in the Grand Prix Kür class at the three-star international show in Addington, Great Britain, in the middle of March.

Portugal’s Maria Caetano and Hit Plus scored 74.575% for the win last week. Belgian competitor Alexa Fairchild and Mala Skala’s Hermes completed on 72.685% for second place, with Ecuadorian rider Julio Mendoza Loor and Jewel’s Goldstrike in third.