Equestrian: Dublin set for rein and shine
Northern Ireland's leading showjumpers are at the RDS this week for the annual Dublin horse show, with the Aga Khan Nations Cup taking centre stage on Friday.
Banbridge rider Dermott Lennon has been named for Friday's squad, although Jessica Kurten, the sixth ranked rider in the world, won't be there.
Jessica had been named by Horse Sport Ireland as an individual for Dublin and had indicated she was going to the show. However, she fell foul of a technical rule on entries and the Royal Dublin Society didn't accept her official entry.
Edward Little from Anahilt has been called up as an international rider this week, with the Prentice team of horses, on his debut in the main arena.
France is sending a hot team of Roger Yves Bost, Michel Robert, the Global Champions 2009 winner and Chantilly Grand Prix winner two weeks ago, as well as Penelope Leprevost and European champion Kevin Staut.
Penelope, runner-up in the Chantilly Global Champions Tour two weeks ago, will bring her world class stallion My Lord Carthago who is a favourite with spectators.
Ulster riders who are competing in the national arenas at Simmonscourt are Lisa Rosbotham, Dromore, Catherine Thornton, Enniskillen, Lucy Buchanan, Banbridge, the Coyle brothers, Londonderry and Linda Courtney, Crumlin to name but a few.
Saturday's Puissance high jump over the big wall will attract a huge audience, with the bravest horses taking on the 7ft red fence.
The Longines Press award for Elegance final will be held this weekend when the best female and male rider on points will receive a suite of watches from Longines. The winner of the Grand Prix also receives a Longines watch.
More than £83,000 is on offer in the showjumping classes, while £54,000 is up for grabs in the four three-year-old events.
Monty Roberts, the leading US horse whisperer is also giving demonstrations each day, and Ladies Day on Thursday boasts a £8,300 all-expenses paid trip for two to San Francisco.
Old favourites Nick Skelton and Michael Whitaker will be representing Great Britain, while Tina Fletcher, formerly Tina Cassan, makes a welcome return to the senior levels.
The Germans are saving their best horses for the World Championships in Kentucky later this Autumn and have sent a lesser ranked team of riders to Dublin.
Rich Fellers, Laura Kraut, Beezie Madden and McLain Ward make up a very serious US team who could pose a threat to the French and Great Britain, who won last weekend at Hickstead.
Despite a recession, the Dublin Horse Show organisers have pulled out all the stops to ensure another bumper show with top prize money also for the breeding rings and show hunters.
The Ireland team have a tough challenge ahead on Friday to reproduce their winning form in Aachen six weeks ago.
The Aga Khan Trophy is one of the most coveted trophies in the Meydan League and Friday looks set to be a battle royal, televised live onn RTE.
As thousands flock to Dublin Horse Show, Northern Ireland riders as always will take home their fair share of the silverware.