Last week saw the publication of the latest Longines FEI World Rankings in which Irish show jumpers were strongly represented in the top 100.
This feat comes after Irish competitors enjoyed an excellent run of forms over the last three months at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida. Twelve Irish show jumpers are now ranked in the top 100.
Under the new COVID-19 rankings policy, which came into effect 12 months ago, the results counted are from the period of 1 March 2019 to 31 March 2021.
After first entering the top 10 in November 2019, Darragh Kenny has managed to stay there since and is still the highest-ranked Irish rider, in ninth place, sitting just behind Britain’s Scott Brash, who has spent the first four months of the year competing in Europe and Qatar.
After a hugely successful season for Shane Sweetnam, who landed his first five-star win last month in Florida, the Cork native has moved up a well-deserved five places to 26th.
Denis Lynch has moved up two places to 29th, with Wexford’s Bertram Allen now 35th.
Limerick’s Paul O’Shea is ranked 39th, while Derry’s Daniel Coyle also inside the top 50 in 44th position.
Among the 12 Irish riders inside the top 100, Cian O’Connor has made the biggest jump, moving up a massive 49 places to 74th.
Completing the Irish dozen are Conor Swail, Michael Pender and Jordan Coyle who have each moved down slightly from their previous rankings but still remain in the top 100.
Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat has spent this year competing solely on the Spanish circuit and remains the world number one, just ahead of Germany’s Daniel Deusser in second place.
When comparing our island to the rest of the world, Irish show jumpers are certainly holding their own on the global stage. America is the only other country with more riders ranked in the top 100 than Ireland, with 13. Ireland is neck and neck with France, which also has 12 riders in the top 100.
This achievement is a credit to the Irish breeders, producers and governing bodies that give our riders the best possible start from ponies right the way up to the top level of the sport.
Limited activity on the eventing and dressage circuits has meant world rankings have remained largely unchanged. Galway’s Cathal Daniels remains Ireland’s top-ranked eventing rider in 14th, while Kildare’s Judy Reynolds is Ireland’s highest-placed dressage rider in 22nd.
In eventing, Britain’s Oliver Townend remains the world number one, just four points ahead of New Zealand’s Tim Price, while Britain’s Piggy March is third. Germany’s Isabell Werth dominates the dressage rankings, which are done on a horse/rider combination. Werth leads the way with Bella Rose 2 and is ranked second with Weihegold OLD.
Our eventers have some catching up to do with only five riders ranked in the top 100. Though, with competitions such as the Irish Sport Horse Studbook Young Horse Eventing League already in place and young up-and-coming eventers like Elizabeth Power and Suzie Berry not far out of the top 100 we should see an improvement on this number over the coming years.