IRELAND’S two individual Olympic show jumpers have their first competition this morning (Saturday) but could face up to five gruelling rounds of jumping in the days ahead.
Cian O’Connor and Billy Twomey will be hoping to get easily through Saturday’s first individual qualifier but then face a tough series of further qualifiers where the number of riders and horses will be whittled down before Wednesday’s two-round final, where the 20 best horse-and-rider combinations will do battle for Olympic medals.
Cork-born Twomey (35) rides the 15 year old mare Tinka’s Serenade, owned by Sue and Eddie Davies, while 32 year-old O’Connor lines out with the 12 year old gelding Blue Loyd, which he bought only last year, and which is jointly owned by Ronnoco Jump Ltd. and Max O’Reilly Hyland.
Team Ireland Equestrian’s show jumping manager Robert Splaine said today: “There are a possible five very tough rounds ahead for both riders, as tough as you would expect at this elite Olympic level.
“After the first qualifier, the best 60 riders go through to the second qualifier, and from that the top 45 proceed to the next round. Only 35 will then move through to the last day, which is the final. They all start on a zero score on the final day, and only the top 20 then go to the last round, where medals will be decided.”
Twomey is drawn 39th and O’Connor 73rd in the startlist for Saturday, when competition begins at 10.30am.