UNDER the bright lights of the National Football stadium of Slovakia, team Ireland clinched the CSIO3* Nations Cup in the seventh leg of the Longines EEF Series. It was a third consecutive team win for the nation, having won at the five-star venues of Rome and Vancouver in previous weeks.

In Bratislava, it was Taylor Vard who was at the helm as team manager and he guided the team of Harry Allen, Commandant Geoff Curran, Jason Foley and Thomas Ryan to finish on four faults, just ahead of Austria on five faults in second place.

The 12-fence show jumping track designed by Italy’s Elio Travagliati saw plenty of drama, with a tricky final line of jumps from fences 10 to 12 which saw poles falling up until the last.

Round one saw it tight at the sharp end of the leaderboard, Switzerland finished on a clean sheet whilst Austria sat just one time penalty point behind them, swiftly followed by Ireland and Germany carrying four faults each. Host nation, Slovakia, sat handily in fifth place with five penalties, which meant it was all to play for heading into the second round of the competition.

Harry Allen was the pathfinder for Ireland with Qin Yu Pang’s nine-year-old gelding Calculatus and they were foot- perfect to set the standard. Next in was Comdt Geoff Curran riding the 11-year-old ISH gelding Tempo Manor (Sligo Candy Boy x Lux Z), owned by the Minister for Defence and bred by Noel Wright. They had a single fence down for four faults.

Next to go was Carlow’s Jason Foley with Oscar v/h Hulstenhof, a nine-year-old gelding owned by Bruntwood Stables and Karel Cox Horses, and they too produced a perfect clear round. Sweden-based Thomas Ryan was the anchorman with the 12-year-old stallion Di Cantero van ter Hulst Z and they picked up an unlucky four faults first time out.

It was all to change in the second round when Switzerland slipped right out of contention and three clears for Ireland sealed the victory, just one fault ahead of Austria who had to count four faults from round two to finish on a total of five. The home nation of Slovakia moved up to third place when adding nothing to their first round score of five faults. Allen and Foley jumped brilliant double clear rounds, two of just five in the competition.

“We’re obviously delighted with the win,” said Comdt Curran afterwards. “This lovely show and we’re very happy to be here, but to win is the icing on the cake.”

Double clear hero Harry Allen added: “The arena is absolutely amazing, the horses come to life but there’s a lot to look at, but it suited my horse perfectly. The course builder did a very good job, it was very fair and I’m very happy with my horse – he’s quite green at this level so I’m very impressed with him also.”

Allen third in Grand Prix

Allen had more to celebrate on Sunday when he finished third in the three-star Grand Prix at the venue with Calculatus. From a startlist of 50, Allen and Curran made it through to the nine-horse jump-off where there were five clears.

Breaking the beam in 35.39 seconds was good enough for third place and €8,250 for Allen and the talented nine-year-old by Cachassini who has been at Ballywalter Stables since the end of 2020.

Curran had a fence down against the clock with Tempo Manor to finish seventh. Victory went to Austria’s Alessandra Reich with Oeli R, clear in 34.78, ahead of Switzerland’s Bryan Balsiger with Scarlina de Tiji Z (0/0 34.88).

On Saturday, Allen won the one-star six and seven-year-old class with Kumina Della Caccia. The seven-year-old mare by Kannan is owned by Ballywalter Stables and was the best of six double clears.

Commandant Curran also won a one-star class on the same day. Riding the Minister for Defence’s nine-year-old gelding Derrycush (Emerald x N-Aldato), bred by Alfie Hillen, he won the 1.35m two-phase.