TIPPERARY’S Thomas Ryan continued Ireland’s strong start to the indoor World Cup season when claiming a fourth place finish in last Sunday’s second leg of the Longines FEI World Cup series at Helsinki in Finland, where Sweden’s Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli landed victory.

From 37 starters there were 10 through to the jump-off and every spot was hard-earned. The tight confines of the 60m x 30m ice-skating rink in Helsinki always presents an enormous challenge to riders and horses as well as to the course designer at this annual contest, but Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge set them a superb track that tested the best while keeping them safe.

Riding the feisty 12-year-old mare Kalinka van de Nachtegaele, 35-year-old Augustsson was last to go in the jump-off but only saw pathfinder, Belgium’s Gilles Thomas, take his turn before her. “I didn’t watch the others, but Marlon (her husband and fellow athlete) told me they were really fast. I know my horse is super quick and I knew I had to stay calm or she would get too excited, so I had my plan and went as fast as I could while keeping her under control, and it worked,” said the happy winner afterwards.

Breaking the beam in 34.13 seconds, she pinned longtime leader Gerrit Nieberg from Germany into runner-up spot with Blues d’Aveline CH. This pair set the standard in 35.16 seconds when second to go, but Augustsson Zanotelli shaved more than a full second off that target time. Third place went to Germany’s Janne Frederike Meyer-Zimmermann (Buettner’s Minimax) and Thomas Ryan slotted into fourth.

Exciting talent

Ryan was riding the ultra-talented nine-year-old stallion Springfield, owned by H3K Equestrian AB. They were clear in 35.62 seconds to earn €22,000 and 13 World Cup points, however Ryan signalled the stallion will finish his 2022 season on that note and have a well-deserved break.

Augustsson Zanotelli added: “My horse was unbelievable. She’s very special, she’s very delicate and sensitive but when she enters the arena she wants to win. She’s been extra amazing over the last six months and I think her best years are still to come - she’s getting better all the time!”

It was an extra special day too for the other female on the podium, Janne Meyer-Zimmermann, who has just returned after maternity leave. She gave birth to son Friedrich Alexander in January 2022. “I just came back from my maternity leave, so today is special. Everything takes more time now but it’s so much more beautiful to travel with my family.”