Funding failure forces Ireland out of World Games

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Ireland has finally pulled out of the World Equestrian Games, which were due to be held at Punchestown in County Kildare next summer, because they have been unable to secure the necessary funding.

The International Equestrian Federation will now have to find venues for world championships in six equestrian disciplines and there must be a chance that one or more will be held in Britain. The Games had been awarded to Ireland nearly four years ago but, despite initial confidence, it has been impossible to secure sufficient sponsorship.

This year's European Show Jumping Championships were on everybody's mind when Robert Smith filled the top two places in yesterday's Daewoo Grand Prix qualifier at the East of England Show here.

The class incorporated the third of four International Championship Team Trials, which Smith won on Senator Tees Hanauer and finished second on Orthos.

With three trials now decided, Michael Whitaker (on Virtual Village Ashley) and Mark Armstrong (on Primma) share first place on 18pts, with Smith third on Orthos (17) and fourth on Tees Hanauer (15). The selectors are committed to including the top three on overall points in the British squad.

Armstrong, fourth yesterday, feels his horse can cope with such a challenge. He will be contesting the fourth trial, to be held at the New Forest and Hampshire Show on 31 July.