Denis Duggan will take up the role of chief executive with Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) in January. The Tipperary man has held a similar role with Macra na Feirme for the past five years.

Although he has no previous experience in the equine sector, Duggan has a good reputation as a talented manager with strong leadership abilities. He is an experienced lobbyist and well-versed in maintaining stakeholder relations – qualities he will need in his new role.

Prior to his term with Macra, Duggan worked with Shannon Development for six years and was then senior regional development executive with Enterprise Ireland.

Mary Lambkin-Coyle, acting chair of HSI, said: “I believe [Denis] will bring strong leadership and commercial acumen to help us to achieve our ambitious objectives for the sport horse industry in the coming years.”

One of Duggan’s biggest challenges will be delivering a new Centre of Excellence for equestrian sport in Rathcoole, Co Dublin.

Planning permission has been granted for the centre at the Greenogue Equestrian site, though there remains opposition to the plan within the industry, notably from other equestrian centres who feel the plan has been rushed through without proper consultation with key stakeholders.

Numbers set to rise at race meetings

There will be 4,000 spectators at both Leopardstown on Saturday and the Curragh on Sunday for the two-day Irish Champions Weekend fixture.

Tickets were snapped up quickly after Horse Racing Ireland confirmed that it had secured Government approval to increase attendance at meetings from just 500 to 50% of each racecourse’s outdoor capacity.

On its own, this concession would only have allowed Leopardstown and the Curragh host 2,500 racegoers each day, but the two tracks have also won permission to let people with proof of vaccination use their indoor facilities.

The Listowel Festival (19-25 September) could not avail of that opportunity as the course requires some of their bars and restaurants to house jockeys and racing officials. The weighroom is not big enough to allow for social distancing. As a result, only 2,500 tickets are being offered to the public for each day.

Irish jumpers fifth in European final

The Irish show jumping team of Daniel Coyle, Michael Duffy, Eoin McMahon and Mark McAuley, managed by Michael Blake, finished fifth of 15 teams following last Friday’s Longines FEI Jumping European Championships team final at Riesenbeck in Germany.

Coyle, Duffy and McMahon were making their debut appearance at the event, while McAuley was part of the Irish squad that won the European Championship team gold in Gothenburg in 2017.

Galway’s Michael Duffy was the only Irish rider to put in a clear round, doing so with the Katherine Duffy & HMF Equestrian-owned Zilton SL Z.

Switzerland won the gold medal, while hosts Germany took silver. Belgium overtook Olympic champions Sweden to take bronze.

On Sunday both Co Clare’s Eoin McMahon and Derry’s Daniel Coyle finished in the top 10 in the individual final.

McMahon claimed eighth place with the 15-year-old gelding Chacon 2. It was a special moment for the 26-year-old who is actually based in Riesenbeck with German superstar Ludger Beerbaum.

Coyle (27) finished in 10th place with the 11-year-old mare Legacym while Michael Duffy finished in 16th place overall with Zilton SL Z.