The Irish show jumping team have been drawn last of the eight teams to jump in this evening's Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup at Aachen in Germany.
Rodrigo Pessoa has named a strong squad to line out for Ireland, three of who were on last year's team that finished second at the venue. It will be a big night for Peter Moloney as he makes his Aachen debut with Team Harmony's Chianti's Champion, while Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z return to the Irish team for the first time since the World Equestrian Games in Tryon last September. The 13-year-old Spy Coast Farm LLC-owned stallion has only competed at two FEI shows since the Games.
Darragh Kenny has been in exceptional form of late, his last big win coming last weekend in the five-star Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Chantilly with Balou du Reventon. He lines out in Aachen with his other top mount, Important de Muze, who is owned by Anne Thompson.
Ireland's anchor man this evening is Meath's Cian O'Connor with Ronnoco Jump Ltd's 11-year-old mare Irenice Horta. This will be their second five-star Nations Cup following a strong performance in La Baule in May.
Ireland are up against The Netherlands, France, USA, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland and the home nation of Germany who look like the team to beat. World champions Simone Blum and DSP Alice line out alongside Marcus Ehning, as well as Christiam Ahlmann and Daniel Deusser who are returning to team duty after two years.
Pessoa is expecting another tough test in Aachen this year, where Ireland staged a second half comeback in 2018 to narrowly finish as runners-up behind the home team from Germany.
“Aachen is always very tough. Germany have regained Daniel Deusser and Christian Ahlmann on the team along with Marcus Ehning and Simone Blum. On paper they are incredibly strong and will be the team to beat but we will give it a go. Last year we finished second, just two points off the winners so this year we are hoping to go one better,” commented Pessoa shortly after the draw for the starting order took place.
The Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup starts at 6.30pm this evening and is live on ClipMyHorse.tv