Ireland bag second in Swedish Nations’ Cup

SWEDISH NATIONS CUP RI Farm
MARCO VILLANTI

RODRIGO Pessoa’s Irish Show Jumping team has taken runner-up spot after a thrilling Longines FEI Nations’ Cup on Sunday at Falsterbo in Sweden. The competition saw a four-way jump-off against the clock to decide the winners, after Ireland, Italy, Netherlands and the home team from Sweden all finished on four faults after two rounds of jumping.

Ireland held a slender lead at the halfway stage thanks to clear rounds from Bertram Allen (Gin Chin Van Het Lindenhof), Mark McAuley (Utchan De Belheme) and Paul O’Shea (Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu).

The second round saw Allen and McAuley both pick up four faults apiece, and with Sweden, Italy and Netherlands all jumping clear, the pressure came on Ireland’s final two riders.

Derry’s Daniel Coyle stepped up to the task and jumped clear with Cita, before Limerick’s Paul O’Shea completed a fantastic double clear performance to leave Ireland on a four fault total. Ireland were joined in the jump-off by Italy and Sweden, while Netherlands also took a place in the decider after successfully appealing four faults at the water given to Maikel Van Der Vleuten.

Rodrigo Pessoa selected speed specialist Daniel Coyle and Cita to go against the clock. An incredibly fast jump-off saw the Dutch take victory after a clear in 39.33 from Johnny Pals. Coyle was second quickest in 40.47, with Sweden third after Henrick Von Eckermann jumped clear in 41.52. Italy finished fourth with a clear from Luca Marziani in 42.71. Britain finished fifth, with Denmark sixth, Spain seventh and Norway eighth.

Irish team manager Rodrigo Pessoa was pleased with how all his team performed,

“We had a good first round and we were getting pressurized in the second round from several teams – Italy, Netherlands and Sweden. Our last two riders were really solid. Daniel gave it a fair try in the jump-off. The Dutch rider gave it all or nothing to take the win. All our guys did a great job today. This was a good way to start this triple-header. We move now to Aachen (GER) on Thursday. We head there with a fresh squad and although it is not part of the league, it will be an important Nations’ Cup for us to build confidence.”

The result leaves Ireland eighth of 10 teams on the Europe Division 1 league table and with some of the teams ahead of Ireland with no further opportunity to gain points, Ireland have the chance to rise further up the table in their remaining two rounds at Hickstead and Dublin.

Ireland’s runner-up finish in Sweden came on the back of an incredible run of results last weekend. Billy Twomey scored three wins in Falsterbo including Friday’s Longines Grand Prix, while Mark McAuley also scored a victory at the same venue. Anthony Condon (SFS Aristio) and Richie Moloney (Button Sitte) both recorded two-star Grand Prix win in Chantilly (FRA) and Tryon (USA).

Ireland won its second gold and fourth medal in total at the Longines FEI European Youth Championships in France on Sunday after Carlow’s Jason Foley was crowned European Under 18 Show Jumping Champion – bridging a gap of 42 years since Ireland last won European Under 18 Gold.

This brings Ireland’s medal haul at last week’s European Championships to four, with Co Clare’s Rhys Williams taking individual Gold in the Under 14 Championship on Saturday, along with team silver for the Irish Under 14 team and a Bronze for the Irish Under 18 team.

Senior team manager Rodrigo Pessoa was also keen to pay tribute to the Irish riders who won medals this weekend at the European Championships in France and to Irish Youth team manager James Kernan.

“James (Kernan) and the team did a really great job. To come home with four medals from a European Championships shows the future is in good hands with this group of young riders,” Pessoa said.

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