IRELAND finished runners-up in the three-star Longines EEF Nations Cup series in Bratislava, Slovakia, last Friday after a jump-off with Germany.

Chef d’equipe Michael Blake selected a team of riders with plenty of experience at the level, while three of the four horses were making their Nations Cup debut.

Alexander Butler was first of the four to go with Adolf Giebler’s 13-year-old Eindhoven G.H. The pair came to bother at the fourth fence when the bay gelding ducked out at the last minute and, despite not touching a pole, they racked up the time faults and finished on a score of 22.

David Simpson needed to steady the ship when second to go with Patrick De Roeck’s 10-year-old gelding Medoc De Toxandria, who he has only been riding since March 2022. Making a debut at the level, he did what was required and produced a perfect clear.

Thomas Ryan, back on an Irish team for the first time in a number of years, was next to go, with H3K Equestrian AB’s nine-year-old stallion Springfield 21. The exuberant jumper also produced a lovely clear round to keep Ireland in the reckoning. With plenty of experience, Trevor Breen also debuted Mandy Hall’s Germaine W in a team competition and they were unlucky to clip the back bar of the third fence in the first round to finish with four faults.

That left Ireland on four faults at the halfway stage, level with four others, while the lead was held by Germany, Belgium and Switzerland who were all on a zero score.

Having been the discard score in the opening round, Butler and Eindhoven G.H recovered brilliantly to post a clear second round, and that set the tone for a flawless second round performance from the Irish. Simpson and Ryan completed double clear rounds before Trevor Breen also jumped a clear second round to leave Ireland on a two-round total of four faults.

Last into the arena, Sophie Hinners could win the competition for Germany with a clear, however, riding the 10-year-old Million Dollar, she finished with four faults which forced a jump-off with Ireland.

Butler was selected to jump-off and was producing a speedy round before Eindhoven G.H repeated what he did in the first round and ran out the side of a fence. They ultimately finished with nine faults in 52.54 seconds.

The pressure was off Hinners, who rode the jump-off for Germany, and despite a fence down, she claimed the victory for her nation with four faults in 41.61 seconds.

The rest of the winning team was Cedric Wolf (DSP Chicitito), Sven Schlüsselburg (Bud Spencer) and Kendra Claricia Brinkop (Narcos VD Smidshoeve), led by chef d’equipe Marcus Doring. Switzerland finished third of the 11 teams that took part.