Irish dressage riders Dane Rawlins and James Connor are now taking their legal challenge to Sport Ireland, the nation’s over-arching body. It follows a confusing 24 hours after both sides announced the independent arbitrator found in their favour regarding Horse Sport Ireland’s (HSI) decision not to send a full dressage team to the Olympic Games.

Ireland qualified an Olympic dressage team for the first time but three top-scoring riders dropped out earlier this month, and on the eve of nominated entries last week, HSI announced that the team place would be handed back, and only Heike Holstein would go to Tokyo, as an individual.

Connor and Rawlins, who were qualified and keen to make up a team with Holstein, lodged an appeal. That hearing took place on Monday before arbitrator Dermot Kelly SC.

The riders’ legal team announced they had secured a “u-turn” by HSI who had agreed to submit their Certificates of Capability (CoC) to the Irish Olympic committee, the OFI, a prerequisite for a Tokyo entry; HSI’s concession meant Rawlins and Connor no longer needed to proceed with an injunction.

But hours later HSI announced the arbitrator had found for HSI.

In the absence of any other detail, even the riders took to social media to say they didn’t know what was happening. understands that there were two different appeals, one regarding the CoCs, and another about procedural aspects – was HSI empowered to withdraw the team or is that prerogative with the OFI? Regarding procedure, Kelly found for HSI.

Final entries close for Tokyo on Monday July 5. The riders’ legal team hope Sport Ireland can hear the new appeal tomorrow (Friday) or over the weekend.

Belgium now has Ireland’s team place and so a reinstated Irish team would rely on other individuals dropping out, as the Tokyo quota of 50 dressage riders is currently full.