FOUR first-time championship riders lined out for Ireland at the FEI European Jumping Championships in Riesenbeck in September and they showed their class when finishing fifth in a superb field, where a bit of luck here and there might have seen them win a medal as they were in touch come the final day, while two Irish riders also finished in the top 10.

German legend Ludger Beerbaum stepped up at the end of 2020 and took on the challenge of hosting the Europeans at his top-class venue in an unprecedented year where we also had an Olympic Games.

Michael Blake fielded the team of Daniel Coyle (Legacy), Michael Duffy (Zilton Z SL), Eoin McMahon (Chacon 2) and Mark McAuley (Jasco vd Bisschop) and they were right in the running up until the final, eventually finishing fifth on a total score of 28.73, less than a mark from fourth.

Switzerland won their fifth European title in the 46-year history of the European Championships after a nail-biting team final went to the wire. They claimed the gold on 9.47, ahead of Germany on 12.77 and Belgium on 17.34.

Top 10

A brilliant performance from McMahon and Coyle saw both Irish riders finish inside the top 10 in the individual final. McMahon, who is based in Riesenbeck, rose from 47th after the first day to claim a superb eighth place finish with the 15-year-old gelding Chacon 2, ahead of Coyle who finished 10th with Grange’s 11-year-old mare Legacy, rising from 31st place. Three Irish riders had qualified for the individual final with Galway’s Michael Duffy finishing strongly to take 16th place overall.

Daniel Coyle and Legacy

After a classic battle for the individual medals, Germany’s Andre Thieme claimed the individual gold with DSP Chakaria. Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs took silver with Leone Jei, while Sweden’s Peder Fredricson won his third medal of the year when winning bronze with Catch Me Not S.

“If you told me at the beginning of the week that I would get into the top 10, I would have bitten your hand off.

"Looking back, I could have been better. I didn’t ride very well the first day, but in the last four rounds I did well,” said Eoin McMahon.

Read all the international show jumping reviews of the year here.