THE owners of Michael Duffy’s World Equestrian Games mount EFS Top Contender have decided not to allow their horse travel to the championship due to the ongoing threat of the category four Hurricane Florence.
Duffy and the 12-year-old stallion were called up as the reserve combination last week.
Announcing the decision on the horse’s Facebook page, the Dalton family said: “It is with great sadness that we have to let you know that our horse Forest - EFS Top Contender will not be attending the World Equestrian Games. This decision has not been taken lightly and we would firstly like to apologise to the Irish team and to Michael, Forests rider for our decision.
“As you are undoubtably aware, there is a category four hurricane about to hit North and South Carolina. We appreciate that forecasters are not entirely sure where hurricane Florence may hit, but for us, Forests safety is of absolute priority.
“This does not mean that we are in anyway doubting any other owners/ team manager/ riders decision on whether or not to send their horses. As a family, we discussed the possibility of our horse being caught up in either a) hurricane Florence, b) an evacuation procedure or c) bad weather conditions either whilst in the air or once arriving in North Carolina for the games.
“However slim the chances of any of these things happening are, we have decided that we are not prepared to send our horse half way across the world in to a potentially catastrophic hurricane that may or may not hit the area that he will be staying.”
The statement continued: “Again, we appreciate that the organisers of WEG are doing all they can to update everybody on the situation and have evacuation procedures in place should they be needed, we just don’t feel that any show/ championship or anything is worth even the slightest risk to our beloved horse.
“Over one million homes have been evacuated from North Carolina and without any shadow of a doubt Hurricane Florence will prove devastating to some parts of North Carolina and with hurricanes being so unpredictable in their course we hope that others will understand our decision to not fly our horse out there without absolute guarantee of the situation.
“Once again, we would like to thank the whole Irish team for inviting Forest to attend the games and whole heartedly apologise for the inconvenience that this has caused. We wish all riders and horses well at the games and pray that we have been over cautious in our decision.”
The rest of the Irish team horses, excluding Shane Sweetnam’s Chaqui Z who is a domestic arrival at WEG, flew from Liege in Belgium today.