By Dan Walsh
The Irish Showjumping team has qualified for the Olympic Games in Paris following a Friday night of high drama at the ECCO FEI World Show Jumping Championships in Herning, Denmark, where an outstanding performance from Michael Blake’s Irish Showjumping team of Denis Lynch, Bertram Allen, Cian O’Connor and Daniel Coyle, saw them take one of the five coveted places on offer for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
At the end of one of the most thrilling nights in the history of the sport, Ireland climbed from overnight ninth place to finish fourth overall and take one of the five Olympic places on offer – and at the finish, missed out on the bronze medal by just one penalty.
Tipperary’s Denis Lynch was first to jump with his Rome Grand Prix winner Brooklyn Heights. The World No.25 produced an excellent round, jumping clear over the fences, picking up just one time fault over what was proving a very difficult course.
Wexford’s Bertram Allen then gave Ireland another huge boost when he jumped an outstanding clear round with The Irish Sport Horse Pacino Amiro. Those rounds from Lynch and Allen moved Ireland up five places to fourth with two riders left to jump for each of the 10 teams.
Third to go for Ireland, Meath’s Cian O’Connor and C Vier 2 were clear until the penultimate combination where they had one fence down and picked up one time fault for a five fault score. That score from O’Connor would prove vital, as Derry’s Daniel Coyle had a couple of fences down with Legacy, after which Coyle decided to retire knowing he couldn’t improve Ireland’s score.
Irish team manager Michael Blake said: “Obviously we are delighted to take an Olympic qualification place at the very first opportunity as it now gives us two full years to prepare for the Games.”
Horse Sport Ireland CEO Denis Duggan added: “Huge congratulations to Michael Blake and his team on a fantastic performance at the World Championships and in gaining Olympic qualification. To qualify here at the very first opportunity against all of the top teams in the world, is hugely significant, as it gives us as much time as possible to prepare for Paris.”