Olympic spot hangs in the balance as Ireland prepare case for Court of Arbitration for Sport

The case centres around a "freak” incident during the European Championship last August

Olympic spot hangs in the balance as Ireland prepare case for Court of Arbitration for Sport

©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Ireland will appear before the Court of Arbitration for Sport with a legal challenge in the hopes of securing a showjumping spot in next Summer's Olympic Games in Rio.

The move comes after a "freak" incident occurred during qualifying at the European Championships in August.

A steward ran across the path of Irish entry Good Luck and the horse then hit the following fence, subsequently incurring four faults.

As a result, Ireland missed out on qualification by less then one fault in the final standings. Horse Sport Ireland then lodged an appeal with the sport’s governing body, the FEI, but was rejected in a statement:

“The protest was heard by the Ground Jury, who ruled that as the athlete had continued his round, they saw no reason to stop him by ringing the bell. Under Article 233.3 of the FEI Jumping Rules, the athlete had the opportunity to stop voluntarily due to unforeseen circumstances beyond his control, however he did not do so.”

Ireland’s CAS appeal will be heard in Lausanne, Switzerland next Wednesday, 16 December.

Horse Sport Ireland’s legal team for the hearing will be led by Senior Counsel Mr. Martin Hayden and will be supported by Barrister Mr. David Casserly, along with Mr. Joe Fitzpatrick and Mr. Eamon Carey.
 
Horse Sport Ireland Chairman Pat Wall said in a statement today: “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.”