Team Ireland Equestrian Athletes Confirmed for Tokyo 2020
Experienced Riders Named for the Olympic Games in Tokyo
Team Ireland has officially selected the Show Jumping, Eventing and Dressage athletes and horses who will compete at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer. The majority of the Equestrian events take place in the original arena that hosted the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Equestrian Park, with the Eventing Cross-Country taking place on the Sea Forest Cross-Country Course. Starting on the Saturday 24 July with Dressage, the equestrian schedule runs through to Saturday 7 August, with the finals of the Jumping.
Speaking ahead of the Olympic Games Team Ireland Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020, Tricia Heberle, highlighted the standard of the team,
"This equestrian team can really do something in Tokyo. Right across the three disciplines there are proven performers, including of course, Cian, our Olympic Bronze Medallist. We also have world medallists and regular podium finishers across the board, with the Eventing Team consisting of some of the 2019 World Medallists. We are also delighted to have the experience of Heike on the team, who is embarking on her fourth Olympics. We are really looking forward to following the team in Tokyo.”
The team of Show Jumping riders includes London Olympic Bronze Medallist Cian O’Connor, Ireland’s top-ranked rider Darragh Kenny, and European Championship team gold medal winner Bertram Allen. Shane Sweetnam, who is also a European Championship gold medal winner, has been selected to travel to the Games as P Alternate rider and can be called upon to jump if required at different stages of the competition.
The group of horses selected for the Show Jumping team includes two Irish Sport Horses, with Cian O’Connor riding the nine-year-old gelding Kilkenny (ISH) and Bertram Allen riding the nine-year-old gelding Pacino Amiro (ISH). Darragh Kenny will ride the 14-year-old stallion VDL Cartello, while Shane Sweetnam rides the 11-year-old mare Karlin Van’t Vennehof.
London Olympics Bronze Medal winner Cian O’Connor said:
“Obviously, I am really over the moon to be selected for the Tokyo Olympics. I have a really special Irish horse in Kilkenny and together with my team-mates Bertram Allen, Darragh Kenny and Shane Sweetnam, we are really looking forward to the trip to Tokyo and I really think we have a great chance. All our horses and riders are in great form and at the moment at the shows we are competing at, there is a great buzz and hype around Tokyo coming up, We are heading there quietly confident and looking forward to catching up with the rest of Team Ireland.”
Horse Sport Ireland Show Jumping High Performance Director Michael Blake said,
“This is a truly historic moment for Irish Show Jumping and we are incredibly proud to represent our country at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. We are very lucky to have such a tremendous pool of talent to choose from and it was always going to be a tough decision to make the final selection. A huge amount of sweat, work and tears goes into Olympic preparation and our athletes have been terrific. Bertram, Cian, Darragh and Shane have a huge task ahead of them and I have no doubt that they will rise to the occasion. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the equestrian community at large, the OFI, Sport Ireland and Horse Sport Ireland in particular for their continuing support.
The officially selected Show Jumping combinations for the Olympic Games are:
Bertram Allen with Pacino Amiro (ISH) – 2012 gelding by Pacino (BWP) out of Carnone Dancing Queen (ISH) by NC Amiro (AES). Breeder: Simon Scott, Co. Donegal. Owner: Aiden McGrory.
Darragh Kenny with VDL Cartello (HOLST) – 2007 stallion by Cartani 4 (HOLST) out of B-Estelle (HOLST) by Lord (HOLST). Breeder: Witt Pferdezucht. Owner Lorcan Gallagher & Heathman Farm LLC
Cian O’Connor with Kilkenny (ISH) – 2012 gelding by Cardento (HOLST) out of MHS Pembrook Lady (ISH) by Guidam (SF) Breeder Sinead Brennan, Co Kilkenny. Owner Susan Magnier.
P Alternate/Reserve – Shane Sweetnam with Karlin Van’t Vennehof (BWP) – 2010 Mare by Fantomas De Muze (BWP) out of Fantomas De Muze (BWP) by Quasimodo Vd Molendreef D’08 (BWP). Breeder: Jos Voeten. Owner: Seabrook LLC & Shane Sweetnam
The Show Jumping competition takes place in the Equestrian Park and runs from the 3 – 7 August 2021. Ireland’s Show Jumping riders will compete for medals in the individual competition first, followed by a second set of medals in the team competition.
The Irish Eventing team selected for the Games includes three members of the team that secured Olympic qualification when winning the team silver medal at the 2018 World Championships – becoming the first Irish team in any sport to qualify for Tokyo.
The team includes Ireland’s top-ranked Eventing rider Cathal Daniels, Sam Watson who has competed at three World Championships and Sarah Ennis who finished fifth individually at the 2018 World Championships. Austin O’Connor, who represented Ireland at two previous Olympic Games, at Sydney in 2000 and Beijing in 2008, has also been selected as P Alternate rider.
The Irish Eventing team includes no less than three Irish Sport Horses. Cathal Daniels rides Rioghan Rua (ISH) , Sam Watson partners Tullabeg Flamenco (ISH), Sarah Ennis will ride Horseware Woodcourt Garrison (ISH) and Austin O’Connor is selected with Colorado Blue.
Eventer Sam Watson added:
“Personally, it’s a huge honour to get the opportunity to represent Ireland at an Olympic Games. I have three World Championships and five Europeans under my belt, but this will be a first Games. It will be something that my own support team and family will cherish, but it’s business as usual for me right now.
On a broader note, I think Tokyo 2020 is a massive moment for us all. It’s a symbol of our ability to survive and, ultimately, to thrive. Global governing bodies, national sporting bodies and individual coaches, managers and support staff have really put their hearts and soles into making this possible. It’s been the same for athletes too, and it’s seriously tough on the ones that won’t make it there after all their effort, but as someone who now has the chance, I’ll be putting everything into these next few weeks to get a result for the country.”
Horse Sport Ireland Eventing High Performance Director Sally Corscadden said:
“It is a huge honour and privilege to be representing Team Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics. The squad, coaches and support staff have worked incredibly hard to prepare for the challenges of travelling and competing horses on the other side of the world. It is an enormous logistical operation and we couldn’t do it without the great staff in HSI and the fantastic support of the OFI and Sport Ireland.
With the new format it was never going to be an easy selection and I would like to thank all the squad members for their input and engagement over the past two and a half years. They have really made Eventing in Ireland very competitive and raised the bar. This will be the toughest competition in so many ways, but we are lucky to have such experienced and professional athletes to call upon.
You can be sure that we will be going there to do our best and wish to make Eventing Ireland and all our supporters proud of our performances on the world stage.”
The officially selected Eventing combinations for the Olympic Games are:
Cathal Daniels with Rioghan Rua (ISH) – 2007 mare by Jack Of Diamonds (SWE) out of Highland Destiny (ISH)[TIH] by Flagmount King (ID). Breeder/Owner: Margaret Kinsella (Galway).
Sarah Ennis with Horseware Woodcourt Garrison (ISH) [was Woodcourt Garrison] – 2009 gelding by Garrison Royal (ISH) out of Davitt Star (ISH) by Furisto (HANN). Breeder: Patrick J Kearns (Laois). Owner: Breda Kennedy
Sam Watson with Tullabeg Flamenco (ISH) – 2009 gelding by Tullabeg Fusion [ISH] out of Tullabeg Heidi (unk) by Ardenteggle Sir (IPSA). Breeder: Nicholas Cousins (Wexford). Owner: Vahe Bogossian
P Alternate Athlete/Horse – Austin O’Connor with Colorado Blue (SHBGB) – 2009 grey gelding by Jaguar Mail out of Rock Me Baby by Rock Kind. Breeder: Mellon Stud, Owner Austin O’Connor and The Salty Syndicate
The Eventing competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games runs from July 29th to August 2nd.
Ireland will be represented at the Tokyo Olympic Games by one individual Dressage rider, Heike Holstein, who has previously represented Ireland at three Olympic Games as an individual - Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Athens in 2004).
Heike will ride her own Irish-bred mare Sambuca and the combination were previously part of the Irish team at the 2019 European Championships in Rotterdam (NED).
Speaking ahead of the Games Heike said:
“I am delighted to be representing Irish Dressage as an individual at the Tokyo Olympics. The last year and a half has been a roller-coaster and hard on us all and the Olympics is an event that unites the world in solidarity and sportsmanship.
I bred Sambuca and during her younger years until now, I always wished and aimed to ride her at the Olympic Games. I could not partake on this adventure without the support of the Team, Dressage Ireland, HSI , the OFI and my sponsors. It takes an army and I hope we do Ireland proud.”
Horse Sport Ireland Dressage High Performance Director Johann Hinnemann said:
“I’m delighted to nominate Heike Holstein. She is a proven performer with a top class Irish bred mare. It is very special for a horse person to have that opportunity with a self-bred and trained horse. My congratulations to the whole “ Holstein “ family for producing this. I have no doubt that Heike and Sambuca will proudly fly the flag for Irish Dressage and exhibit a fantastic performance. Heike and Sambuca have worked very hard for this chance and for sure will do everyone proud in Tokyo.”
The officially selected Dressage combination for the Olympic Games is:
Heike Holstein with Sambuca – 2009 mare by Samarant (HANN) out of Astoria (ISH) by Limmerick (HOLST). Bred by Heike Holstein, Co. Kildare. Owner: Jake & William Bell
The Dressage competition at the Tokyo Olympics runs from July 23rd to 28th
Team Ireland now consists of 95 officially selected athletes, with over 110 athletes spots confirmed, making this the largest team to represent Ireland yet. There are three remaining team announcements which will take place in the coming days. The Olympic Games in Tokyo will run from the 23rd July to 8th August 2021.
More about the athletes:
Michael Blake – Horse Sport Ireland Show Jumping High Performance Director & Chef D’Equipe
Michael’s position, which incorporates the role of chef d’equipe, became vacant when Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa, who took up the post in March 2017, stepped down to concentrate on his own riding career. Prior to this appointment Michael held the roles of Team Ireland senior development jumping manager and assistant team manager to the Irish senior team. Since 2017, the Co Clare native has played a key role in the success of the team, including their win at October’s Nations’ Cup World Final in Barcelona, which secured a team spot at the Tokyo Olympics, and that at the 2017 European championships. Michael has filled the role of chef d’equipe for the senior team at more than 20 international shows and assistant team manager at a further 43.
Michael is always full of appreciation of the owners who make their world class horses available to Team Ireland.
Sport – Show Jumping
From Co Meath
Social Media: Facebook: Cian O’Connor. Twitter: Cian O’Connor (@Cian_O_Connor). Instagram: Cian O’Connor (@cianoconnor_official).
Olympic Horse - Kilkenny (ISH) – 2012 gelding by Cardento (HOLST) out of MHS Pembrook Lady (ISH) by Guidam (SF) Breeder Sinead Brennan, Co Kilkenny. Owner Susan Magnier.
Cian O’Connor is one of Ireland’s most well-renowned Show Jumping athletes, and one of the longest-serving team members. He is Ireland’s only equestrian athlete to win an Olympic medal (Bronze, London 2012). Cian also holds a European individual bronze and team Gold medal (2017) and has had over 120 caps for Irish senior show jumping teams. He is not only one of Ireland’s most successful athletes, he is also one of the sport’s most successful businessmen.
For almost 20 years Cian has been successfully producing and trading international show jumping horses, coaching riders and competing internationally for Ireland. Cian rode in his first Nations Cup for Ireland at the age of 19, has competed at the European Championships 10 times from 1997 to 2019 and has travelled to two Olympic Games, winning the Bronze medal at London 2012 with Blue Loyd.
Cian has also competed at the World Equestrian Games on three occasions and has also competed in the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final twice, including 2019 when he was part of the Irish team that secured Olympic team qualification when winning the Nations Cup World Final in Barcelona.
Cian’s base in Ireland is his own 68-acre equestrian centre, Karlswood, Co. Meath. The impressive facilities include an indoor arena, an outdoor grass arena, an Olympic sized sand arena, hacking trails, gallops, stables and spa facilities as well as veterinary and schooling paddocks. Cian is business-focused and commented that being based in Ireland really stands out in the horse sport industry, and aligns with Horse Sport Ireland’s strategic vision for the industry in Ireland.
Coaching is a focus of Cian’s business model, with long-time clients such as Nikki Walker (CAN) and new recruits the Wachman brothers Tom and Max, who have both already competed for Ireland at European level as members of the Youth High Performance squads, with three gold medals between them. Coaching for Cian is a key element of the business, and students will need to be goal-oriented and aim high.
One of Cian’s top horses at the moment is Kilkenny (ISH) (previously MHS Fernhill) who was bred in Ireland by Ita Brennan in Co. Kilkenny. Kilkenny began his international career with Sophie Richards (IRL) in 2017, before being taken on by Duarte Seabra (POR) in 2019 where he progressed from Young Horse classes up to CSI4*. Cian then took over the ride in October 2020, kicking off in Vejer De La Frontera, Spain. The pair then competed in the CSIO4* at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida and took several top-ten placings in CSI5* classes including finishing third in the $401,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix in March. It was a night of firsts for Kilkenny; first time under the lights, first time in a five star, first time jumping water in the big competition, so a very pleasing result.
Sport – Show Jumping
From :Co Wexford
Social Media: Facebook: Bertram Allen. Twitter: Bertram Allen (@BertramAllen123). Instagram: Bertram Allen (@bertramallen).
Olympic Horse - Pacino Amiro (ISH) – 2012 gelding by Pacino (BWP) out of Carnone Dancing Queen (ISH) by NC Amiro (AES). Breeder: Simon Scott, Co. Donegal. Owner: Aiden McGrory.
Bertram has been competing for Ireland internationally since 2008, when he began competing ponies in Belgium. Not long after he travelled to the European Championships in 2001, where he took the individual gold medal and team silver medal. He has since competed at the youth EU Champs in 2012 and 2013, where he took team gold in 2012 and individual silver in 2013. He has competed on the Senior European team twice, first in 2015 with Molly Malone V, and then with Hector Van D’Abdijhoeve in 2017 where Ireland took their historic team gold medal. He has been to the World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses twice, in 2013 and 2014, with five different horses taking individual first place twice and second place once. He competed at the World Equestrian Games in Caen, France in 2014 where he finished in individual 7th and Team Ireland took 7th place, and his ranked 37th in the FEI Longines show jumping rankings, the 4th highest-ranked Irish show jumping rider. He has competed in a World Cup final in 2015 where he took 3rd place, and in a Nations Cup final in Barcelona also in 2015 where Ireland finished 5th.
Raised in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, in the South East Ireland, Bertram and his six siblings, April, Grace, Lucy, Ivan, Harry and Ruben, were born into a family with a strong equine influence. Bertram's dad Bert had racehorses so an interest developed and Bertram went to the nearby riding stables, Carrigbeg where Sue, Chris, and Daphne Burgess thought him to ride. His Mum Geraldine was soon bringing him to weekly shows with his first pony Charlie B. Next were lessons from Mag and Con Power who together with Billy Twomey became the most influential people in his early career.
At the age of 15, Bertram moved permanently to Hünxe in Germany to develop his jumping skills. Marlene Schannwell, who is still Bertram’s show groom quickly joined him. Today the yard in Germany is busy with over 20 horses. April Allen, Bertram’s sister manages the yard on a daily basis. During his fourth-year as a student in Newtown School, Waterford, Bertram’s brother Harry took full advantage of transition year and spent most of his time in Hunxe Germany, with brother Bertram and sister April. In 2018, Harry made his permanent move to Hünxe to join his siblings at Ballywalter Stables LTD.
32 Irish athletes competed in FEI competition at the recent Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Florida. At 25 years of age Bertram Allen was one of the youngest of the strong Irish contingent in action throughout the 12-week tournament, but he turned out to be the biggest money-earner (His total winnings were $246,775).
Sport – Show Jumping
From Co Offaly
Social Media: Facebook: Darragh Kenny. Twitter: Darragh Kenny (@dkenny08). Instagram: Oakland Stables (@oaklandstables).
Olympic Horse - VDL Cartello (HOLST) – 2007 stallion by Cartani 4 (HOLST) out of B-Estelle (HOLST) by Lord (HOLST). Breeder: Witt Pferdezucht. Owner Lorcan Gallagher & Heathman Farm LLC
Darragh is currently Ireland’s highest-ranked show jumper, at number 8 in the world. Darragh Kenny has been competing in the sport of show jumping since the age of 10., and first appeared for Ireland at the U18 European Championships in 2005, and then at the U21 EU Champs in 2007. In just two short years he progressed to jumping in four-star world cup classes, and not just competing but finishing in the top ten repeatedly. As the son of two trainers, PARENTS Catherine and Michael, he began his career in his homeland of Offaly, Ireland where he quickly rose in the ranks riding in his first grand prix at the young age of 14.
In 2007 at the age of 19, Darragh was invited to compete at the Dublin Horse Show as one of Ireland’s leading young riders where he won a training bursary to work with a top American coach at North Run Stables.
In September 2012, Darragh made the decision to leave North Run Farm and form Oakland Ventures, LLC. Since its inception, Oakland Ventures has become one of the most successful competition barns across the United States. In addition to his many successes around the world, Darragh represented Ireland at the World Equestrian Games in 2014 .
Darragh had a wonderful 2014 and 2015 season. In 2014 he was placed well in many important international competitions, such as CSI4* W North Salem, CSI5 * Los Angeles, Del mar , Toronto between others. He was also placed 12th individually at the World Equestrian Games in Normandie, FRA with the horse Imothep.
2015 brought what he considers the highlight of his career, when winning the Aga Khan in Dublin for Ireland.
In February of 2020, Darragh was crowned The Irish Field/Irish Horse World leading show jumper of 2019.
He is based between the United States and Europe, and won two five-star Grands Prix with his top mount, Balou du Reventon, in 2019 - the €500,000 Rolex Grand Prix in Knokke, Belgium, at the beginning of July and, two weeks later, in Chantilly, France where he scooped €99,000. He earned €250,000 when runner-up in the prestigious Super Grand Prix of Prague in December.
He was also part of the Irish team which qualified for this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games when winning the Longines FEI Nations’ Cup final at Barcelona in 2019 and had a hugely successful run at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival where he placed in 27 separate competitions, and won the $73,000 five star Challenge Cup alongside four fellow Irish-men to make up the top five, on his Irish-bred Sligo Balou Boy. He was also the winner of the $137,000 Horseware Ireland three-star Grand Prix and was Ireland’s third highest earner at the Winter Equestrian Festival when pocketing a total of $157,645.
Sport – Show Jumping
From - Cork
Olympic Horse - - Karlin Van’t Vennehof (BWP) – 2010 Mare by Fantomas De Muze (BWP) out of Fantomas De Muze (BWP) by Quasimodo Vd Molendreef D’08 (BWP). Breeder: Jos Voeten. Owner: Seabrook LLC & Shane Sweetnam
Social Media: Facebook: Shane Sweetnam. Instagram: Shane Sweetnam (@shanesweetnam).
Shane began his Grand Prix career at sixteen and is now based in Florida, USA. Shane comes from a family steeped in equestrian tradition and is also a first cousin to Munster and Ireland rugby player Donnacha Ryan.
In 2017, 2019, and 2020 he was presented with the Niall Grimes Perpetual Trophy as the leading Irish rider during the CSIO Nations Cup week at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida. Shane has been a key member of the Irish team for the past decade and was part of the team that won team gold at the 2017 European Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.
He has competed at four European Championships and the 2018 World Equestrian Games.
Shane and Karlin Van’t Vennehof were members of Ireland’s Longines FEI Nations Cup team earlier this year at La Baule CSIO 5* in France. Shane is ranked No.26 on the Longines World Rankings.
Sally Corscadden – Horse Sport Ireland Eventing High Performance Director
Sally Corscadden was born in Leicestershire and moved to Ireland in 1988, where she met her husband Brendan and set up the now well-known and highly-regarded equestrian training facility that is Grange Farm, The brilliant Tiger Roll is often seen schooling at Grange Farm.
Throughout her career as an international rider, Sally won events such as the CIC 3* at Thirlestane Castle, the final trial for the British and Irish European team in 1993, she also recorded wins in CCI’s at Ballindenisk and Blarney. At the 1993 European Championships, Sally was on the bronze medal-winning team and also placed individual 12th. Sally competed at the 1994 World Equestrian Games in the Hague, Netherlands where her team finished fifth.
Sally’s coaching career began shortly after the 1994 World Equestrian Games, when she became High Performance Coach to the Irish Junior Eventing Team who went on to win the team silver medal at the 1995 Junior European Championships in Gotland, Sweden. Sally also coached the Irish junior and pony teams that won team gold and team bronze at the European Championships in 2008 and 2015 respectively.
Sally became High Performance Manager and Chef d’Equipe of the Irish Young Rider Squad in 2011 and in her first year Irish riders claimed the Team Silver Medal and Individual Bronze Medal at the Young Rider European Championships at Blair Castle, Scotland.
Sally is now the Eventing High-Performance Director at Horse Sport Ireland and manages the Senior Irish Eventing Team who won team and individual silver medals at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina and became the first Irish sports team to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Sport – Eventing
Social Media: Instagram: Equiratings (@equiratings). Facebook: Sam Watson Eventing. Twitter: Sam Watson (@watsoneventing).
Horses - Tullabeg Flamenco (ISH) – 2009 dun gelding by Tullabeg Fusion (ISH) out of Tullabeg Heidi (UNK), by Ardenteggle Sir (IPSA). Bred by Nicholas Cousins, Co. Wexford. Owner: Vahe Bogossian;
Sam began competing internationally for Ireland in 2002. He is currently ranked 46th in the FEI Eventing Athlete Rankings and is the second-highest ranked Irish Eventing rider after Cathal Daniels. Sam has represented Ireland at European level 13 times, at the Junior, Young Rider and Senior Eventing EU Champs and at the FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Eventing Championships in Le Lion D’Angers. He has also ridden at the World Equestrian Games three times, in 2010 and 2014 with Horseware Bushman (ISH), and 2018 with Horseware Ardagh Highlight (ISH), where the Irish team finished inside the top ten each time and in 2018 took the historical silver medal, Ireland’s first Eventing medal at the World Equestrian Games. Sam completed his first CCI4* (now CCI5*-L) in 2009, ad Badminton with Horseware Bushman (ISH), and has completed five Nations Cups events representing Ireland, including taking individual 1st and team 2nd at Camphire, Ireland in 2019 with Imperial Sky (ISH).
Tullabeg Flamenco (ISH) and Sam began competing together in 2015, when they competed in Ireland in Young Horse classes and have progressed to CCI5*-L. They represented Ireland at the FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Eventing Championships in Le Lion D’Angers in 2016, and were members of the 2018 Nations Cup team in Boekelo in 2018 where they finished in individual 10th. They more recently competed at the European Eventing Championships in 2019 in Luhmühlen, finishing in team 6th, and made their CCI5*-L debut also in Luhmühlen in 2019, finishing in individual 12th.
Sam is co-founder of the sports data and analytics company EquiRatings. Their work is for anyone in the equine world who is looking for a better way to improve performance, manage risk, engage fans or guide Olympic programs.
Sport - Eventing
Social Media: Instagram: CDS Sporthorses (@cds_sporthorses). Facebook: Cathal Daniels Sport Horses. Twitter: Cathal Daniels (@cathaldaniels1).
Horse - Rioghan Rua (ISH) – 2007 chestnut mare by Jack Of Diamonds (SWB) out of Highland Destiny (ISH)(TIH), by Flagmount King (ID). Bred by Margaret Kinsella, Co. Galway. Owner: Frank and Margaret Kinsella.
Cathal competes internationally for Ireland primarily in Eventing, and also competed in Show Jumping most recently in 2020. He is Ireland’s highest-ranking Eventing rider in the FEI Eventing World Athlete Rankings, in 16th position with 368 points. He is also the youngest Irish rider in the top 100 Event riders, and is the only rider under 25 years of age in the top 20 riders.
He has been riding for Ireland since 2012, when at the age of 15 he travelled to Fontainebleau as a member of the European Pony Eventing team where Ireland took team gold. Since then, Cathal has competed at the U18 EU Champs twice, in 2013 and 2014 with Rioghan Rua (ISH) taking team gold both times; the U21 EU Champs twice, first with Rioghan Rua (ISH) in 2015 taking team bronze and later with Sammy Davis Junior in 2017 taking individual 4th place; and the Senior EU Champs with Rioghan Rua in 2019 where he took individual bronze, finishing on the podium alongside Ingrid Klimke and Michael Jung (GER).
Cathal has also competed at the FEI/WBFSH World Eventing Championships for Young Horses in Le Lion D’Angers (FRA) on four occasions with six horses, first in 2014 with Rioghan Rua (ISH) – the same year they took team gold and individual silver at the EU Champs in Bishop Burton (GBR) – and then in 2016, 2019 and 2020, finishing in individual 5th place with LEB Empress (ISH) in 2020.
Cathal’s stand-out performance is winning the team silver medal for Ireland at the 2018 Tryon World Equestrian Games, where he and his career-long partner Rioghan Rua (ISH) finished in individual 26th and helped the Irish team to beat Team Germany to second place by one fence in the show jumping round, beaten only by Team GB. An appearance at the Olympic Games is the only achievement this pair are yet to take.
Stand-out horses & performance:
The aforementioned Rioghan Rua (ISH) is Cathal’s formidable partner in competition – the pair have been competing on the world stage together since 2012 – almost 10 years – and are rarely out of the ribbons. Rioghan Rua or Red to her friends, was bred by Margaret Kinsella in 2007, by Jack of Diamonds (SWE) and out of a Traditional Irish Horse mare, Highland Destiny by renowned Irish Draught sire Flagmount King. She has not competed internationally under any other rider, and made their debut at CCI4* (now CCI5*-L) in Pau, France where they finished in individual 12th place. The pair also competed on Nations Cup teams in 2015 at Ballindenisk and Boekelo and in Fontainebleau in 2016; and have competed at two further CCI5*-L events at Badminton in 2017 and Luhmühlen in 2018 where they finished in 7th place.
Sport - Eventing
Social Media: Instagram: Sarah Ennis (@sarah_ennis_eventing). Facebook: Sarah Ennis Eventing. Twitter: Sarah Ennis Eventing (@SarahEnnisEvent).
Olympic Horse: Horseware Woodcourt Garrison (ISH) [was Woodcourt Garrison] – 2009 gelding by Garrison Royal (ISH) out of Davitt Star (ISH) by Furisto (HANN). Breeder: Patrick J Kearns, Co. Laois. Owner: Breda Kennedy.
Sarah has been an international Evening rider for Ireland since 2002 and has ridden more than 50 horses in that time, at over 280 competitions.
Sarah has competed at three European Championships, with Horseware Woodcourt Garrison, Horseware Stellor Rebound and Sugar Brown Babe, all Irish-bred horses. Sarah has also competed at the FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Eventing Championships for Young Horses at Le Lion D’Angers with eight horses, from 2008 to 2019.
Sarah is hugely experienced in bringing young Event horses through the levels, is a Horse Sport Ireland accredited Coach, and is well-known for participating in Ireland’s national leagues for young horses, namely the Stepping Stones to Success league, and the Young Event Horse Series (previously the Future Event Horse League). She has won both the four-year-old and five-year-old Young Event Horse finals at the Dublin Horse Show.
Sarah is a qualified lab technician and worked for a lab for a number of years before deciding to dedicate her full attention to producing and competing horses. She grew up in Howth and used to ride her ponies on the beach. The first horse she took to the Young Rider Europeans was an ex-racehorse which had picked up an injury and was retired from racing. She won her first international in her mid 20’s beating William Foxpitt. At age 30 she met her husband Nikki and they set up their own yard. She has a real love for producing and training young horses and well known for participating in the national young horse leagues.
Sarah has competed at two European Championships and was a key member of the Irish team that won team silver at World Equestrian Games in 2018 and finished in individual 5th place. In 2020 and 2021, they have won three out of three starts at CCI4*-S here in Ireland at Ballindenisk, finishing once on their Dressage score and twice with only time penalties on Cross Country.
Sarah acquired the ride on Horseware Woodcourt Garrison in 2015, where they began competing in Young Horse classes here in Ireland before travelling to the UK and Germany to compete. They competed for Ireland at three Nations Cups in Ireland and the Netherlands, and in 2019 travelled to Luhmühlen, Germany to compete in the European Championships.
County: From Cork, based at Attington Stud, Oxfordshire, UK.
Social Media: Instagram: Team O’Connor (@team_oconnor). Facebook: Austin O’Connor Eventing. Twitter: Austin O’Connor (@attington).
- Colorado Blue (SHBGB) – 2009 bay gelding by Jaguar Mail out of Rock Me Baby by Rock Kind. Bred by MELLON STUD. Owner: Austin O’Connor and The Salty Syndicate.
Austin O’Connor hails from County Cork, Ireland, and his family has been long rooted in the horse world. Cork is an Irish county synonymous with “all things horsey” with sport horse and National Hunt studs abound, and hunting, eventing, and racing endemic to life there. Austin was therefore naturally completely immersed in the equestrian way of life from early childhood. Eventing soon became his focus. Austin represented Ireland as a Junior and Young Rider and won team gold on the 1995 Young Rider Team in Germany. He continued to build on his early success and to date has represented Ireland on the Senior Team 7 times. He has also been an Olympic team representative for Ireland on two occasions: Sydney 2000 on Horseware Fabio and Beijing 2008 on Hobby du Mee. Austin has been selected for the World Equestrian Games on 3 occasions, with injuries sadly preventing him from making appearances.
In 1994 he came to England and has been based here ever since. In his time here, Austin has produced and ridden numerous horses at every level of eventing. At Badminton in 1999 he was 4th on Simply Rhett. In 2009 he was 8th at Luhmühlen on Pocket Rocket. Austin has also ridden many horses at four-star level during his time here in the UK. 2017 produced a number of international appearances for Austin, including being dubbed ‘cross country ride of the day’ with Kilpatrick Knight at Badminton CCI4*, a Bronze medal in the Irish leg of the FEI Nations Cup at Tattersalls with Balham Houdini and an FEI European Championships appearance in Strzegom, Poland, with Kilpatrick Knight. 2020 offered another long listing for the Tokyo Olympics following a good season with Colorado Blue. This included a 3rd place finish at the Little Downham CCI4*S and a clear cross-country at his first CCI5* at Pau. Austin’s notable five-star appearances (all on Irish-bred horses) are: 13th on Ringwood Mississippi (ISH) in Lexington, KY in 2013; 15th also on Ringwood Mississippi (ISH) at Badminton in 2014; 16th on Balham Houdini (ISH) in Lexington, KY in 2015; and 26th at Badminton on Kilpatrick Knight (ISH) in 2017.
Colorado Blue is a 12 year old British-bred sport horse, who has been competing in international Eventing since 2015 and has been partnered with Austin for his whole career so far. The pair are yet to complete their first five stat together, but have run competitively at four star and three star, including two Nations Cup appearances in 2018 at Houghton Hall and Millstreet.
Sport - Dressage
Olympic Horse: Sambuca – 2009 mare by Samarant (HANN) out of Astoria (ISH) by Limmerick (HOLST). Bred by Heike Holstein, Co. Kildare. Owner: Jake & William Bell (Heike Holstein)
Social Media: Instagram: Heike Holstein Dressage (@heike_holstein). Facebook: Heike Holstein.
Achievements: European Dressage Championships Rotterdam 2019, Aachen Nations Cup Team 2019.
Heike Holstein has represented Ireland at three previous Olympic Games as an individual in the discipline of Dressage (Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Athens in 04). Heike is a HSI level 3 Coach. Heike also bred and produced her Irish-bred horse Sambuca up to Grand Prix level.
Heike’s family have always been closely associated with equestrian sport both in Ireland and internationally. Her mother, Gisela Holstein, is a list one international dressage judge. Heike first sat on a pony at the age of two and, along with her younger brother Erik, went on to compete in showing and lead rein classes. She won her first Irish National Champion title in 1990 age 18, and has won it 11 times since.
Heike trained with 7 time Olympic medalist Dr Reiner Klimke for many years as his only pupil. Living in Germany gave her the opportunity to travel to many shows on the European circuit and learn from one of the all-time greats of dressage.