Kürten relishing FEI gig

JESSICA Kürten takes her role as commentator for FEI TV extremely seriously. “I absolutely love commentating and have no desire to return to jumping at this level,” she told The Irish Field in Barcelona. She and co-presenter Phil Ghazala prepare their notes and research well in advance of major championships, but the final round up with producers is an hour before they go live.

“I have a few good young horses coming on and I love this aspect of riding. It is exciting commentating and Phil and I have pressure going live but we love our job. This has been an amazing final with a track which was big, technical and demanding from Santiago Varela.”

Holiday detour for Wilsons

MARTIN and Pauline Wilson from Ballyclare, Co Antrim flew north from Alicante at the weekend to cheer on the Irish team and in particular Jack Ryan. Martin, a former top amateur explained: “I competed against Jack’s mother Marguerite in amateurs and we were delighted to see he was on the Barcelona squad. We were on holiday so hopped on a plane to Barcelona. It is a marvellous venue with great food, music and entertainment.”

Martin, who has retired from show jumping, now produces young horses with rider Edward Little.

Edward Doyle (left) chatting with well-known amateur Martin Wilson and his wife Pauline \ Ruth Loney

McAteer’s connection

JODIE Hall McAteer, daughter of Paul McAteer (Newry) and Mandy Hall, at only 21 made her Nations Cup Final debut last weekend with her top horse Salt N Peppa. A member of the Rolex young rider academy, Jodie continues to train with Ben Schröder in Belgium. She recently purchased the talented bay Berlin 10-year-old mare Hardessa from Stephen Macken and Ashford Farms. “I am enjoying training in Belgium. Barcelona is a fantastic show, my top horse Salt N Peppa is so honest and scopey; my granny Shelagh from Newry came to watch me competing recently in London, she loves the sport. Both my parents are here in Barcelona,” said Jodie, who was part of the British team which finished fifth.

Trevor Breen with Mandy Hall, owner of his 11-year-old Dutch-bred mare Germaine W. Mandy's daughter Jodie Hall McAteer (21) competed on the British squad with Salt N Peppa \ Ruth Loney

Busy press room

HORSE Sport Ireland press officer Brian Hennessy and wife Sonya were in Barcelona for Sunday’s final where they kept the Irish fans up to date with their website news and pictures straight from ringside. With little time to spare, Brian and Sonya had no time for lunch, but made do with the press parma ham baguettes!

Louise Parkes, FEI journalist for international shows, was also on global deadlines as she covered the entire event from start to finish and wrote for four hours to ensure the world’s media received every quote available. After a busy summer, Louise now moves on to the indoor circuit with the FEI World Cup shows beginning soon in Scandinavia.

Barcelona facelift

PRESIDENT of the CSIO Barcelona organising committee Francisco Espinos de Pascual revealed a transformation of the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona showgrounds for next year’s finals. Speaking at the press conference, he said: “This arena has been here since 1930, we start rebuilding next week. In just one year you will enjoy and see a new stadium here.” He added the plans were online.

Irish-breds flying the flag

THE Cruising Mickey Finn mare, Cruising Star, collected no less than €5,620 in Barcelona after taking second in the Vanguardia Trophy and seventh in the RCPB Trophy. Ridden by Spain’s Alex Codina Leria, the talented 14-year-old mare was bred by Caroline Wardle. Another Irish Sport Horse competed by a Spanish rider was Dawson’s Flex, ridden by Carolina Aresu Garcia Obregon. Dawson’s Flex is by Flexible (ISH) out of a Kildalton Gold mare, bred by Victor Bennett. “He is a lovely horse,” said Carolina on Sunday.

Shaw family holiday

DUBLIN show jumping owners Andrew and Ellen Shaw, and their daughter Tilly, were over the moon when their horse Equine America Spacecake was selected for Barcelona with Britain’s Ellen Whitaker. Tilly started riding at six years old at Kellystown Riding School and then moved to Festina Lente where her love for horses progressed. Her studies took her to Hartpury College in England where she bought a horses from Steven Whitaker, eventually buying Spacecake for Ellen.

“We were thrilled to hear Spacecake was picked for Barcelona so my mom, dad and I booked our flights. Spacecake is an amazing little mare she had just one pole down and we finished fifth.” Andrew and Ellen said: “We are proof that you can come from a non-horsey background and get fortunate to have a good mare and come to a great FEI Nations Cup final.”

Tilly competes at 1.25m level with her horse One Diamond.