Austin O'Connor and Capt Geoff Curran were set to kick off the Irish equestrian Olympic action when the dressage phase of the three-day event got under way at the core equestrian venue at Sha Tin in Hong Kong just before midnight last night.
Ireland fields a full squad of five event riders including Louise Lyons, Patricia Ryan and Niall Griffin, having earned a late Olympic qualification based on individual standings in the world rankings.
And while far from favourites for a medal placing, the fact that the Irish horses are relatively youthful may work to their advantage in the uniquely testing Asian climate where the capacity to handle the heat and humidity will be a major factor in deciding the fate of the Olympic medals.
Team vet Marcus Swail reported yesterday that all the horses had travelled well on their long-haul flights, and that the sole show jumping horse, Denis Lynch's Lantinus, was none the worse for a 24-hour delay in leaving Amsterdam airport last Wednesday.
Lantinus had been loaded onto the "combi-flight" which was to carry both human and equine passengers, but warnings about the Level 8 typhoon which hit Hong Kong on Wednesday led to the decision to unload the horses.