FOR the second week in-a-row, the Irish show jumping team, managed by Michael Blake, have finished in third place in FEI Nations Cup competition - this time at Vejer De La Frontera in Spain yesterday (Saturday). A massive 17 teams lined out at the Spanish venue, for a competition that had been rescheduled when heavy rain forced the postponement of the competition just before it was due to start on Friday.
Ireland started superbly and were in a share of the lead at the halfway stage. Three clear rounds from Mark McAuley with Jasco VD Bisschop, owned by Scea la Tuiliere, Michael G. Duffy with the Carl Hanley-owned Lapuccino 2 (ISH) and Cameron Hanley with his own ESI Toulouse (ISH) meant Ireland's last rider Denis Lynch didn't need to jump in the first round with the Onyx Consulting-owned Cristello.
Only the top eight teams from the 17 starters made it through to the second round with Ireland and Egypt on zero being chased by Denmark on two faults, Germany and Sweden on four faults, while Morocco, Portugal and Brazil also make it through to the second round on five faults.
Many of the world's top teams missed out on a place in the second round including Britain, The Netherlands, France, Italy and the home team from Spain.
The start of the second round saw McAuley complete an excellent double clear performance and it looked at that stage that Ireland could be set for victory. However Nations Cup jumping can change in a flash and four fault rounds from both Duffy and Hanley, along with three clear rounds from the Germany team, put the pressure onto Ireland's anchor rider Denis Lynch. The Tipperary native needed to jump clear to force a jump-off and he left all the fences standing with Cristello, however a foot in the water would end Ireland's hopes of a win.
It was a second victory in the space of a week for the Germans after they had also won at Vilamoura in Portugal. They completed on a score of four faults while Denmark finished as runners-up on six faults and Ireland took third on eight faults. Brazil (10) finished fourth, with Sweden and Egypt sharing fifth on 12 faults. Morocco finished seventh on 14 faults while Portugal rounded off the top eight on 25 faults.
Team manager Michael Blake reflected on a season where despite the huge disruption caused by Covid-19, Ireland have increased their pool of riders ahead of what promises to be a hectic year in 2021:
"We again tried out a couple of new horses and a completely different team to the one from last week in Portugal. It was disappointing that our lead ebbed away in the second round," said Blake. "We again finished on the podium and that means we have finished on the podium five times from the six Nations Cups during a year in which we had huge disruption to the Nations Cup calendar. I want to thank all of the riders and the owners from today and throughout the past 12 months. We have strengthened our pool of horses and riders and have a lot to look forward to next year which includes an Olympic Games, European Championships and hopefully a full Nations Cup campaign."
Lapuccino 2 (ISH) – 2008 stallion by SIEC Livello (HOLST) out of Cabaret III (BHD). Breeder: Sven Kapp, Co. Galway. Owner: Carl Hanley Sporthorses GmbH. Rider: Michael G. Duffy (IRL)
ESI Toulouse (ISH) – 2011 bay gelding by SIEC Livello (HOLST) out of Catina (BWP), by Quasimodo VD Molendreef (BWP). Bred by Cian O’Connor, Co Meath. Owner/rider: Cameron Hanley (IRL)
The Irish Show Jumping team is sponsored by Devenish & The Underwriting Exchange
Equiline – Official athlete clothing supplier of Horse Sport Ireland