The appeal by Horse Sport Ireland and Cian O’Connor seeking an Olympic place for the Irish Show Jumping team will be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland next week. The hearing will take place on Wednesday, December 16th.
The Irish team were on course to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio when a steward inexplicably ran in front of Cian O’Connor’s horse Good Luck during the European Championships in Aachen, Germany, in August, resulting in the pairing knocking the fence they were about to jump.
The four faults incurred resulted in Ireland missing out on Olympic qualification by less than one fault.
Horse Sport Ireland’s legal team for the hearing will be led by well known Senior Counsel Mr. Martin Hayden. He will be supported by Barrister Mr. David Casserly, who is an expert CAS Counsel, along with Mr. Joe Fitzpatrick and Mr. Eamon Carey from Smithwick Solicitors.
Horse Sport Ireland Chairman Pat Wall said: “To have a Show Jumping team at the Olympic Games is very important for Ireland.
Our riders and their owners are doing a huge amount to promote Ireland as a world leader in the sport of Show Jumping. They went to the European Championships to pursue their Olympic dream. A freak incident occurred on the day which hindered our efforts. All we are looking for is fair play. We are convinced that if this incident had not happened, the Irish show jumping team would be going to the Olympics.
“Our legal team have prepared diligently. Mr. Martin Hayden and Mr. Joe Fitzpatrick are also involved in, and have a huge passion for, our sport. They have put in a huge effort to prepare this case.
“In addition, Cian O’Connor has his own legal advisors involved, and the two teams have been working closely to ensure we put forward the strongest possible case”, Mr. Wall said.
The Irish Eventing Team have already qualified for the Olympic Games, and the HSI Chairman said that it would be a great boost to the whole sector to have two teams in Rio.
“Judy Reynolds has also been doing brilliantly in Dressage, so we have a great chance a securing a place in Dressage also”, said Mr. Wall.
“To have a full Show Jumping team there, with the prospect of securing medals, would be the icing on the cake.”