If yesterday’s opening day was anything to go by, the rest of this week is going to be another corker of all things horse! The Dublin Horse Show is most certainly in full swing and the display of Ireland’s best equestrian sport and breeding is at full gallop!

Aga Khan Trophy

HSI Show Jumping High Performance Director Michael Blake is preparing his squad for the battle to defend the Aga Khan Trophy tomorrow. Speaking ahead of Friday’s clash of the titans, Blake said: “We bring forward a very strong squad, who have displayed excellent Nations Cup form this year. There are some strong teams for this year’s renewal of the Aga Khan Trophy, but I am confident that we have an equally strong team. We have the added advantage of the amazing support from the home fans.”

The squad comprises of Daniel Coyle riding Legacy (ZANG), Michael P Duffy riding Cinca 3 (HOLST), Cian O’Connor riding Eve D’Ouilly (SF), Michael Pender riding HHS Calais (ISH) and Shane Sweetnam riding James Kann Cruz (ISH).

There are two Irish-bred horses on the team: HHS Calais is a 2011 gelding by Cavalier Royale out of MHS OBOS Cruise by OBOS Quality bred by Ita Brennan, Co Kilkenny and everyone’s hero from last year’s Aga Khan victory, James Kann Cruz, a 2013 gelding by Kannan out of CSF Telly Cruz by Cruising bred by Patrick Connolly.

Build up

Cian O’Connor is a doyen of the Aga Khan Trophy being on the winning team in 2022, 2015, 2012 and 2004. O’Connor said of Friday’s competition: “I’m delighted this year to have a very special nine-year-old mare to ride in Eve D’Ouilly who’s owned by my student and friend Nicole Walker. The mare has had a very nice build up this summer and feels in fantastic shape. Hopefully we will be peaking on Friday afternoon!”

For Michael Duffy and Mikey Pender this is their debut on an Aga Kahn team, the ultimate honour for many as Pender expressed: “It’s a lifelong dream of every Irish rider. I’m very grateful to the people who have helped along this journey and most of all HHS Calais, who has been an incredible horse for me. He’s heading into next week in good form, following a clear in the 3* Grand Prix of Dinard. We have a very strong team and fingers crossed we will get it done.”

As much as I’d like to be ringside for the heart-stopping Aga Khan, instead I’ll be shouting myself hoarse at the tv screen in The Irish Field office whilst we’re getting the paper to print. I’m hoping the roars of the home crowd cheering Ireland around their victory lap will drift through the window for us all to hear. Ádh mór leaids! CL