I’ve landed at the desk today with the same spring in my step Tiger Roll had at last weekend’s Aintree. A week’s holiday in Paris will do that to you. As part of my trip, I took a visit to the Palace of Versailles to take a look at what’s underway for the rather magnificent Olympics 2024 equestrian venue.

Like much of Paris at the moment, the majestic venue is getting a spruce up - in Versailles that mainly means oceans of gold leaves are being revived by gilders and the gardens are being primped, preened and replanted.

For the games, our riders will compete on a temporary outdoor arena, flanked by several stands, set up on the Etoile Royale esplanade to the west of the Grand Canal at the heart of the palace’s expansive gardens. The arena will stage two eventing disciplines (dressage test and jumping), as well as the jumping and dressage competitions (Olympic and Paralympic). The individual and team eventing cross-country section will be held alongside the Grand Canal, some 305 years since it was first built.

On-going ground evaluations, turf management and other preparations have been taking place to provide safe footing for both riders and horses and to ensure the preservation of this stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site. The incredible venue certainly got my heart rate up as I stood imagining paralympian and world double bronze medalist Michael Murphy working his magic on such an exquisite stage.

Bitter pill to swallow

Meanwhile at home, breeders around Ireland were reacting to the news from Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) that DAFM have reminded all passport issuing authorities that ‘Sales Letters’ for the sale of horses with incomplete passport applications is not permitted under EU Animal Health Law. This news comes as a bitter pill to swallow for breeders already brought to their knees by the on-going delays in HSI equine passport issuing.

I have firsthand experience of these delays and one top Irish breeder told me: “Breeders want to know the bottom line - what is the turnaround of an HSI passport? How can other studbooks such as AES and WSI have such a quick turnaround? HSI come up with a million excuses, but we don’t want excuses, we want action. We don’t understand in the age of technology why foaling certs and kits can’t be downloaded online like other studbooks.”

HSI told Irish Country Living: “HSI will also announce details of its upcoming new improved e-Passport system within the next fortnight. HSI encourages all breeders to complete their mare declarations and to declare coverings for this year’s foals on IHR Online if they have not already done so.”

I’m off to try that.