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Mixed results for Ireland's eventing team after challenging cross-country phase

Ireland are in eighth place overall.

Austin O'Connor rides Colorado Blue.
Austin O'Connor rides Colorado Blue.
Image: Libby Law/INPHO

IRELAND’S EVENTING TEAM endured a day of mixed results at the Tokyo Olympics. 

 They lie eighth in the overall stands after today’s cross-country phase, with a score of 161.00. That represents a rise of give places ahead of tomorrow’s final phase of Show Jumping. 

Best of the Irish was Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue, one of only seven competitors in the entire field to fulfil a clear round within the allowed time. 

O’Connor and the Irish-bred 12-year-old grey, head into the final Show Jumping phase tomorrow on their dressage score of 38.00 and in 20th place.

“I am delighted with my horse’s performance, the horse was great”, said O’Connor. “He seems to have recovered really well. He is a class horse. We will all enjoy the next phase now. We will get the horse recovered and myself recovered and hopefully come out and finish on a good note.”

Elsewhere, Sam Watson and Sarah Ennis both picked up faults on a challenging track that nine competitors were unable to complete.

Watson and Tullabeg Flamenco (ISH) picked up 11 penalties for knocking a frangible pin, – a safety feature which will cause a cross-country fence to collapse and are designed to prevent rotational falls – and also picked up two further time penalties on the course.

Adding this to their dressage score from Friday leaves them in 31st position on a score of 47.30.

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“It’s a really tough one to take because he was brilliant,” said Watson. “The reason he had the 11 penalties was that I let him fall in on that line a little. He ballooned in over the oxer and he got there a fraction close. I should have made more room for him and kept out. We [the team] stay alive, we’re still in the game but I am frustrated.”

Sarah Ennis and her mount Horseware Woodcourt Garrison (ISH) also picked up jumping and time penalties on the track. Around the midway point of the course, Ennis experienced steering difficulty with the 12-year-old gelding after a large drop to a skinny. The run out also resulted in the pair having multiple time penalties and taking some longer routes to get home.

“I felt as we came to the drop and down to the skinny, where he ran out, he got really hard on my right rein and he ran down that hill. For love nor money I couldn’t turn him,” Ennis said. “It is really unfortunate. I was very lucky to get him home. He felt very empty and heavy. I say he will bounce back, he is a tough one and will come back fighting tomorrow. He is fairly hardy but the humidity got to him today.”

The horses will now be transported back to Equestrian Park later on this evening where action will continue tomorrow for both the second horse inspection and final Show Jumping phase of Eventing.

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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