Get­ting ready for the big event

Ray Ryan re­ports on the ex­cite­ment that is build­ing in West Water­ford as Cam­phire pre­pares to host the Ir­ish leg of the Event­ing Na­tions Cup

Irish Examiner - - News -

Ex­cite­ment is build­ing in West Water­ford as Cam­phire gets ready for the Event­ing Na­tions Cup.

IT is the start of the third week in Jan­uary but al­ready a small, ru­ral com­mu­nity in West Water­ford is look­ing ahead to the end of July when it will host a leg of the Event­ing Na­tions Cup.

The Fédéra­tion Equestre In­ter­na­tionale (FEI), the gov­ern­ing body for eques­trian sports, with head­quar­ters in Lau­sanne, Switzer­land, has se­lected Cam­phire, sit­u­ated at the con­flu­ence of the Black­wa­ter and Bride rivers, near Cap­po­quin, as the venue for the pres­ti­gious event.

It did so on the back of the suc­cess achieved by the In­ter­na­tional Horse Tri­als, which have been held at the lo­ca­tion for al­most 10 years, and the grow­ing rep­u­ta­tion of the venue in the heart of the Black­wa­ter Val­ley, where all eques­trian dis­ci­plines have been cher­ished for gen­er­a­tions.

Cam­phire Es­tate, which has a long his­tory, was pur­chased by the Dobbs fam­ily in 1902. Henry Dobbs spent his ca­reer in In­dia and be­came High Com­mis­sioner to the King­dom of Iraq in 1923, a post he held for six years.

After his death in 1934, his widow Esme and her daugh­ter Su­san lived at Cam­phire. When they went to their sum­mer house in Ard­more they’d bring their pet cow with them for a fresh sup­ply of milk.

Su­san Dobbs hunted all her life and, with the help of Van der Vater, founded the Cam­phire Horse Tri­als in 2000. She died in 2009, leav­ing the es­tate to her great­nephew Henry Wilks. He agreed to the tri­als be­ing main­tained and de­vel­oped.

Event­ing is best de­scribed as an eques­trian triathlon. The sport orig­i­nated as a cav­alry test and is com­prised of three phases: Dres­sage, cross-coun­try, and show jump­ing. It tests horse and rider pairs more com­pletely than any other.

It cov­ers all as­pects of eq­ui­tation from de­vel­op­ing har­mony be­tween horse and rider, es­sen­tial for dres­sage, con­tact with na­ture, stamina, and ex­pe­ri­ence, re­quired char­ac­ter­is­tics for cross-coun­try, and ad­vanc­ing the pre­ci­sion, agility and tech­nique in­volved in jump­ing.

Es­tab­lished 2012, the Event­ing Na­tions Cup se­ries runs from April to Oc­to­ber each year, in­cludes venues in Italy, Bri­tain, Poland, France, and Bel­gium, and is a vi­tal part of the sport horse cal­en­dar.

The FEI chose Cam­phire as the venue for the Ir­ish leg of the 2019 se­ries at its Gen­eral Assem­bly in Manama, Bahrain, last year. Green Glens, Mill­street, and Ballindenisk, both in Co Cork, and Tat­ter­salls Ire­land in Meath, were pre­vi­ous hosts.

Cam­phire In­ter­na­tional Horse Tri­als di­rec­tor Paul Brady said the late Su­san Dobbs had the vi­sion of host­ing world-class eques­trian com­pe­ti­tion on the banks of the River Black­wa­ter in Co Water­ford.

“Ten years on, we look for­ward to fur­ther en­hanc­ing and im­prov­ing the Cam­phire ex­pe­ri­ence for vis­i­tors and ath­letes from far and wide,” he said.

Mr Brady said the FEI Event­ing Na­tions Cup has seven legs. Cam­phire was cho­sen in an ap­pli­ca­tion process to host the fourth leg — which will be in­te­grated into the In­ter­nati­nal Horse Tri­als (July 24-29).

The event will be held just a year be­fore the Olympic Games which will add fur­ther in­ter­est as na­tions pre­pare teams for Tokyo.

Mr Brady said they have been re­quested to trial a new Olympic for­mat be­ing plan­ning for Tokyo. That is likely to draw a lot of rid­ers aim­ing to go the Games. It will also be an op­por­tu­nity for na­tions and rid­ers still a triv­ing to qual­ify.

“We would be ex­pect­ing a lot of high-pro­file rid­ers from lots of dif­fer­ent na­tions,” he said. “I would imag­ine we are go­ing to get about 12 na­tions com­pet­ing at Cam­phire.”

Mr Brady said event­ing is a big sport in Ire­land. Each year, the In­ter­na­tional Tri­als would have more than 300 en­tries, with top com­peti­tors from abroad.

He said Cam­phire was men­tioned sev­eral times via the pub­lic ad­dress at the World Eques­trian Games in the US last Septem­ber with ref­er­ences to horses and rid­ers who had com­peted at the West Water­ford venue.

The suc­cess of the tri­als would not have been be pos­si­ble, how­ever, with­out the help of many peo­ple in­clud­ing the Wilks fam­ily, who own Cam­phire Es­tate, and the neigh­bour­ing Browne fam­ily.

Or­gan­is­ers say they get a lot of help from the lo­cal com­mu­nity, Water­ford County Coun­cil, spon­sors, and many oth­ers.

Horses play a big part, of course, in the eco­nomic and agribusiness life of the re­gion through breed­ing, sales, com­pe­ti­tions, leisure ac­tiv­i­ties and the pro­vi­sion of ser­vices.

Cam­phire In­ter­na­tional Horse Tri­als have ac­cord­ingly grown into a pop­u­lar sport­ing and so­cial event, with thou­sands of vis­i­tors en­joy­ing a coun­try fair, a shop­ping vil­lage and chil­dren’s ac­tiv­i­ties that run along­side the eques­global trian ac­tion each year.

Event­ing’s grow­ing ap­peal here was boosted by the suc­cess of Ire­land’s team, which qual­i­fied for the Tokyo Olympics as a re­sult of a su­perb sil­ver medal win­ning per­for­mance at the World Eques­trian Games.

The team of Cathal Daniels, Sam Wat­son, Sarah En­nis, and Padraig McCarthy, who also won the sil­ver medal in the in­di­vid­ual class, was man­aged by Sally Corscad­den.

Ire­land pre­vi­ously won a team gold medal in an event­ing World Cham­pi­onships. That was in 1966 at Burgh­ley in Bri­tain, with a team that in­cluded Vir­ginia Free­man-Jack­son, Ed­die Boy­lan, Pene­lope More­ton and Tommy Bren­nan.

But the tri­umph in Amer­ica was the first in the World Eques­trian Games and raised the pro­file of the sport in Ire­land.

Event­ing has cer­tainly come a long way since the days of vet­eran Olympic horse­man, the late Cap­tain Harry Free­man Jack­son of Mal­low, a pi­o­neer of event­ing and Chef d’Equipe of the win­ning Ir­ish team at Burgh­ley 52 years ago.

It is thus fit­ting that a leg of the 2019 FEI Na­tions Cup should re­turn to the Black­wa­ter Val­ley, where he was a such a prom­i­nent fig­ure.

“Event­ing is best de­scribed as an eques­trian triathlon, a cav­alry test in three phases

Cathal Daniels (on Sammy Davis Jr) of Ire­land’s eques­trian team bound for the Tokyo Olympics, and one of the stars at the Event­ing Na­tions Cup leg due to be hosted in Cam­phire, Cap­po­quin, West Water­ford.

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