Ireland has had a hand in winning some medals for other countries at this summer’s Olympics. The country has bred 15 horses that are competing in London, with only five of them riding with Irish competitors.
The Irish Times reports that 15 Irish horses will be competing in the London Olympics, though many for other countries - five for the Irish team, three for the United States, two British and one each for New Zealand, Sweden, Canada, Ecuador and Switzerland.
One of the great British success stories is rider Zara Phillips and her horse High Kingdom, who were part of an eventing team that won silver. Despite a royal name and a royal rider, Phillips’ horse was bred by William Micklem from Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.
Micklem described Phillips’ and High Kingdom’s success as the “icing on life’s cake and one of my lucky moments. I knew he [High Kingdom] was very special.”
Phillips’ teammate Mary King also rode an Irish-bred horse - Imperial Cavalier, who was bred in Tramore, Co Waterford.
Caroline Powell and her horse Lenamore, bred by Ted Walsh in Kildare, took bronze in the team eventing category for New Zealand.
On Wednesday, American rider Rich Fellers will take his Irish horse Flexible to competition, while Swiss rider Paul Estermann will ride Castlefield Eclipse.
A spokesman for Horse Sport Ireland told the Irish Times that “Breeders breed horses to make money and while most of them would love to see Irish riders all riding Irish horses at the Olympics, the fact is that when money comes in from foreign countries, they will do business with them.”
“We are an export nation for horses and have been for many years.”