THE opening Longines FEI Nations Cup of the 2020 season saw Ireland take sixth place at Deeridge in Wellington, Florida, USA today (Sunday).
Ireland were in a share of the lead with Britain at the halfway stage, with Kerry’s Capt. Brian Cournane getting chef d'equipe Michael Blake’s team off to the perfect start in the opening round with a clear round aboard Armik. This was followed by another clear by Limerick’s Paul O’Shea with Imerald Van’t Voorhof, before Cian O’Connor came home with eight faults with his new mount Lazzaro Delle Schiave.
Offaly’s Darragh Kenny was last to go for the Irish with Romeo and finished with four faults picked up at the second last fence. That left Ireland on a first round total of four faults along with Britain, while three more teams were within a fence of the leaders.
The second round saw Capt. Brian Cournane and Paul O’Shea both collect eight faults apiece while Cian O’Connor and Darragh Kenny added four faults each. This saw Ireland slip down the leaderboard to finish sixth of the eight teams on a two-round total of 20 faults.
The home team from the USA and a three-member British team who were without the luxury of a discard score, finished on eight faults to set up a jump-off. The USA came out on top after Beezie Madden and Darry Lou finished just over three seconds faster than Alexandra Thornton with Cornetto K.
Michael Blake said: “We got off to a very good start with two early clear rounds for Brian Cournane and Paul O’Shea and things were looking very good for us at the halfway stage.
“We made a few mistakes in the second round and things didn’t go our way but these things happen when you are trying out some new horses who don’t have a lot of Nations Cup experience. It’s a long season ahead and it’s all about building our pool of horses and riders. I want to thank all our owners who made their horses available for us today and we pass on our congratulations to the American team on a fantastic win in front of their home fans. We now look forward to our next Nations Cup outing at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida,” added Blake.
The Irish show jumping team is sponsored by Devenish & The Underwriting Exchange.
Equiline – Official athlete clothing supplier of Team Ireland Equestrian.
Source: Horse Sport Ireland press release