THE Underwriting Exchange Irish Senior show jumping bandwagon rolls on into La Baule on Friday, with the squad bidding for an incredible hat trick of five-star FEI Nations Cup victories.
Michael Blake’s teams have been in dominant form of late and backed up a Rome success – Ireland’s first in 97 years – with a ruthless performance in Langley, Canada last Sunday.
Now chef d’equipe Blake returns to Europe for the FEI Nations Cup of France with hopes high of a third win on the bounce. He sends stalwart Cian O’Connor into battle with Tipperary and Shane Breen with Cuick Star Kervec alongside Jack Ryan and brothers Max and Tom Wachman.
Ryan will partner Eagle VD Wolfsakker Z, Max Wachman will ride Aga Khan Trophy hero Kilkenny (ISH) and Tom Wachman will compete with Rock Of Cashel after the combination impressed on their Senior Nations Cup debut at Peelbergen recently.
With confidence high following the Rome and Langley wins, Blake is understandably in confident mood ahead of Friday’s French leg, which sees the likes of Switzerland, France, Sweden, Britain and Belgium among the 10 nations competing.
“Obviously we have had great results over the last couple of weeks but La Baule is a whole new challenge and we need to stay completely focused and on our A-game,” said Michael Blake.
“Since we kicked off the year with a podium in Abu Dhabi, we have gone from strength to strength, finishing second behind America’s A-team on their home patch and then making history in Rome before dominating in Canada.
“It’s a very strong entry with a 'who’s who' of the world’s best riders in opposition, but our lads are all in great form and I’m very hopeful of another strong showing.”
Ireland’s combinations for this week have all been in excellent form, with Max Wachman and Kilkenny finishing on the podium in the 1.60m Grand Prix at Wiesbaden last week. O’Connor and Tipperary were just behind them in fourth – both combinations are peaking ahead of La Baule.
“Max and Kilkenny are really finding their groove now and I was delighted with how they performed in Wiesbaden, the same applies to Cian and Tipperary – we must not forget that these are two relatively new combinations so I’m pleased with their progress.
“Tom was terrific for the team in Peelbergen and Rock Of Cashel also jumped out of his skin for him when they were second in the big Grand Prix that weekend – he is an old head on young shoulders and is doing fantastically well so far.
“Shane and Cuick Star Kervec also jumped clear for us in the middle east earlier in the year where we had a podium finish while Jack’s horse Eagle VD Wolfsakker Z has bags of talent and could be very exciting for the future so it’s a strong squad we have here and I’m looking forward to it.”
The Underwriting Exchange Senior Irish Show Jumping Squad competing in La Baule, France, is;
• Tipperary’s Shane Breen with Cuick Star Kervec, owned by Breen Equestrian Ltd and Quirke Sport Horses Ltd.
• Meath’s Cian O’Connor with Tipperary, owned by Susan Magnier
• Kilkenny’s Jack Ryan with Eagle VD Wolfsakker Z, owned by Jos Lansink Horses BV
• Tipperary’s Max Wachman with Kilkenny (ISH), owned by Susan Magnier
• Tipperary’s Tom Wachman with Rock Of Cashel, owned by Susan Magnier
Kilkenny (ISH) – 2012 gelding by Cardento (HOLST) out of MHS Pembrook Lady (ISH) by Guidam (SF). Breeder: Ita Brennan, Co. Kilkenny. Owner: Susan Magnier. Rider: Max Wachman (IRL).
Picture caption: Michael Blake and The Underwriting Exchange Irish Show Jumping Team after their historic win in Rome
Source: Horse Sport Ireland press release.
The Irish Show Jumping team is sponsored by The Underwriting Exchange
Charles Ancona – Official athlete clothing supplier to HSI’s Senior Olympic programmes