Dane Rawlins & James Connor Appeal Horse Sport Ireland Decision Not to Start Team at Olympics

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Dane Rawlins. File photo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

June 22, 2021

James Connor and Dane Rawlins, who sought to qualify for spots on Ireland’s first Olympic dressage team, on Tuesday filed an appeal with Horse Sport Ireland against the decision not to nominate a team for the Games opening in a month.

James, who will be 60 years old later this week, rode Casino’ Royal, a 16-year-old Oldenburg gelding, while Dane, 65, competed Espoire, a 12-year-old Westfalen gelding, for places on the team of three.

In addition to being an international competitor including at the 2013 European Championships, Dane organized Dressage at Hickstead for 27 years until a year ago. The event was a premier European show near London, including Nations Cup competitions that attracted teams from around the world as well as a showcase for top horse sport.

James competed at the 1998, 2002 and 2014 World Equestrian Games and the 2001 European Championships.

Horse Sport Ireland said that High Performance Director Johann Hinnemann made the decision not to nominate a team as two of the top contenders were not available. The failure of two combinations to meet requirements set by Ireland’s high performance director meant, it said, “the resulting consequence being a team of three athlete/horse combinations cannot be fulfilled.”

Ireland was one of 15 countries to earn a team start at the Games. It did so at the 2019 European Championships.

Horse Sport Ireland said in its announcement withdrawing a team nomination the federation will accept an individual place.

Uncertainty surrounding Ireland’s team status has clouded allocation of the 15th slot.

Luxembourg was next in line but confirmed that it does not have three combinations with qualifying required minimum scores.

Belgium is next with a prospective composite team, then Switzerland.

The 15 nations to have qualified teams are: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Russia and United States.