A raft of leading Irish equestrians joined the country’s French Ambassador to officially launch Team Ireland’s participation in the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, which start later this month in Normandy, France.
The event was hosted at his residence by His Excellency Jean-Pierre Thebault, Ambassador of France to Ireland and his wife Aurore, along with Professor Pat Wall, the Chairman of Horse Sport Ireland.
More than 150 of Ireland’s leading equestrians, in the city for the annual RDS Dublin Horse Show, attended the event on Thursday night, including Olympic medallist Cian O’Connor and his wife Ruth along with his key patron Nikki Walker of Adena Springs Stables. Top Irish show jumping riders who are based around the world flew into the city for the show and also attended the prestigious reception, including Billy Twomey, Denis Lynch, Shane Breen and Thomas Ryan, while USA-based Daragh Kenny and Conor Swail attended along with former World Champion Dermott Lennon, who was joined by this wife Sandra.
Other top riders included Captain Michael Kelly of the Irish Army Equitation School and teenage showjumping sensation Bertram Allen. As the event was hosted in the French Ambassador’s Residence, European Champion Roger Yves Bost and the French show jumping team, who are competing at the RDS, also joined the guests.
Ireland’s WEG eventing squad riders were out in force including Camilla Speirs, Clare Abbott, Joseph Murphy with his wife Jill, Sarah Ennis and her husband Nikki Potterton. As well as the riders guests included some of Ireland’s leading business people, many of whom are horse owners. Royal Dublin Society (RDS) President Matt Dempsey joined the speeches and wished the Irish teams the very best in the upcoming Games, as did Team Manager Robert Splaine and Nick Turner.
On arrival invited guests were treated to a champagne cocktail, the French Bellini, courtesy of Moët Hennessy.
Professor Pat Wall, Chairman of Horse Sport Ireland said: “This is an exciting time in equestrian sport with the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show at the RDS in full swing and only three weeks to go to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
“At the European Pony Championships in Millstreet last week, the Irish show jumping team won the silver medal and Susan Fitzpatrick won the individual bronze, so the young riders are showing the seniors the way. We are extremely fortunate with the number of high-calibre international riders we currently have and they are phenomenal ambassadors for the sport and for the nation.
“Two high performance athletes are required for success but a further vital player is the owner who provides the horse-power. We are extremely grateful to all the owners for their support as they are the ones who make dreams a reality,” Wall said.
Jean-Pierre Thebault said Normandy was “the heartbeat of French horse breeding and the region with strong historical ties with Ireland”.
“From D-Day beaches to its renowned castles and abbeys, with its delicious cuisine, wonderful Normandy extends one million ‘bienvenues’ to Team Ireland and its friends.”