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Ireland joint third in Ocala Nations Cup
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Ireland joint third in Ocala Nations Cup
on 21 February 2018
Michael Blake's team fought back to finish on the podium in the five-star Nations Cup of Ocala

THE Irish show jumping team finished in joint third place in last night's Longines FEI Nations Cup at Ocala in Florida, USA.

Drawn first to jump of the six teams taking part, Ireland opened with and eight fault score from Derry's Daniel Coyle with the 12-year-old mare Cita, who is owned by Ariel Grange. Limerick's Paul O'Shea and Skara Glen's Machu Picchu then finished with just a single fence down, while Ireland's third rider, Offaly's Darragh Kenny with Go Easy De Muze, had a foot in the water and one fence down for eight faults.

Riding the anchor leg for Ireland, Cian O'Connor finished with just one pole down at the first part of the combination with Clenur, who is owned by Armin Himmelreich. This left Ireland in joint fourth place at the halfway stage on 16 faults.

The second round saw Coyle and Cita finish with one fence down, while O'Shea and Skara Glen's Machu Picchu also picked up four faults with a foot in the water. Kenny and Go Easy De Muze looked to be heading for Ireland's first clear coming to the last fence, but the Longines vertical fell to the floor to leave them with four-faults. Last to go, O'Connor and Clenur delivered a foot perfect clear round to leave Ireland on a two round total of 24 faults - tied for third place with the home team from the USA.

The Canadian team of Tiffany Foster, Francois Lamontagne, Eric Lamaze and Ian Millar were the clear winners on eight faults while Brazil took runner-up spot on 16 faults. Germany finished behind the Irish and Americans in fifth, while Mexico finished sixth overall.

Irish Development Team Manager Michael Blake said: "It was a very tough course. We had few errors in the first round but we were much better in the second. Darragh Kenny in particular was very unlucky not to jump clear just having the last fence down.

"You don't win Nations Cups without jumping clear rounds and we didn't jump enough of them today, but our lads never gave up and improved their position in the second round. Canada fully deserved to win and congratulations to them. We now focus on our next Nations Cup in Wellington, Florida where I expect we will have a very strong team."

The result in Ocala comes on the back of a runner-up finish for another Irish team which included Cameron Hanley, David Simpson, Paul Kennedy and Shane Breen in Abu Dhabi on Saturday morning, where Taylor Vard was Ireland's chef d'equipe.

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