Ballsbridge loses out as Games venue

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The Independent Online

The magnificent Dublin showground in Ballsbridge will no longer host any part of next year's Nissan World Equestrian Games. The whole event, which covers six equestrian disciplines, will now be held at Punchestown Racecourse in County Kildare, writes Genevieve Murphy.

"Due to the development of a hotel on the site there is a significant reduction in the space available to accommodate our plans for the venue," James Osborne, the chairman of WEG Ireland, said yesterday.

It has been rumoured that WEG and the Royal Dublin Society, which owns the Ballsbridge showground, were unable to agree terms for holding the show jumping, dressage and vaulting competitions there. These disciplines now join three-day eventing, carriage driving and endurance riding at the County Kildare venue, where a pounds 7m development to upgrade the facilities and build a National Equestrian Centre is about to begin.

Osborne acknowledged that the decision "represents a significant departure from the original plans". The International Equestrian Federation confirmed its support for the Games in Ireland, but clearly has no option at this late stage.

There is bound to be some disquiet at the move away from Ballsbridge, which has been a wonderful showcase for equestrian sport for more than a century. There will, however, be logistical and financial advantages to running all the competitions at one venue.