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Show Jumping - Launch Of 20,000 Euro National Grand Prix League

AT a press reception at Kildare Paddocks, Co. Kildare, the Show Jumping Association of Ireland (SJAI) today (Thursday April 8) formally announced the launch of the 2004 Outdoor Grand Prix League, sponsored by IJM TimberFrame of Monaghan.

Among those present were David Hart, Area Sales Manager for IJM TimberFrame; Charles Hanley, Chairman of the SJAI; Cian O'Connor, member of the 2004 Irish Olympic show jumping squad; and Sarah Jane Tracey, national rider.

With a total prize fund of 20,000 euro and a top prize of 8,000 euro going to the outright winner, the annual league attracts the country's best riders and horses, and creates a premium level of competition and excitement.

Last year's winner and defending champion, 34 yr old Peter Smyth from Strabane in Co. Tyrone, will once again line out with his remarkable mare <Zara's Pride>, the former trotter who went on to become the country's national Grand Prix champion.

Peter said today: <<The League was very good for me, as it was my first crack at it, and I started as an underdog. Hopefully, last year's win has now put me on the road to international competition, but I will be doing my utmost to take the title again in 2004.>>

Beginning in Coilog, Co. Kildare, on April 18, the IJM TimberFrame Grand Prix League will run in a total of 36 venues throughout Ireland, before its grand finale in September.

A change in the rules for 2004 will mean that only a rider's best 15 League rounds will be used to calculate a points total at the end of the season. If a rider competes in more than 15 rounds, the rounds with the least points gained will not be used in calculating the final score.

Speaking of the new sponsors, SJAI Chairman Charles Hanley said <<We are delighted to have a quality product like IJM TimberFrame come on board to support our Grand Prix League and the fact that they were involved in previous years with James Kernan and IJM Touchdown is a bonus, as they know our sport.>>

Chairman of the SJAI's International Affairs Committee, Peter Leonard, said: <<The Grand Prix League is very important to the Irish selectors when looking for potential international riders. Well-known names like Francis Connors. Robert Splaine, Clem McMahon, Conor Swail, and even World Champion Dermott Lennon first came to prominence in the national Grand Prix Leagues.>>

<<It should also be remembered that the riders holding the highest three placings at the end of the outdoor league automatically qualify for international classes at the Dublin Horse Show,>> he added.IJM TimberFrame is based just outside Monaghan, and is the longest-established timber frame company in Ireland, offering a
one-stop shop for people building a new home. The company is one of Europe's largest timber frame manufacturers, with exports to Germany, France, the UK and Saudi Arabia.


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