MICHAEL Blake’s Irish Show Jumping team of Galway’s Michael Duffy, Sligo’s Richard Howley, Mayo’s Michael G Duffy and Louth’s Mark McAuley finished fourth of 14 teams in last Friday’s Czech Nations Cup in Prague.
Ireland looked set to make a good start to the first round when Michael Duffy was clear approaching the last part of the course with ‘Zilton SL Z’, who is owned by Katherine Duffy and HMF Equestrian. However, the 10-year-old gelding lost his footing on landing after the third last fence, meaning Duffy had to circle and he would finish with four jumping and four time faults as a result.
Second in for Ireland, Sligo’s Richard Howley and ‘Arlo De Blondel’, owned by Sarah Borthwick and HK Horses, picked up four faults at the very last fence and a time fault, before Mayo’s Michael G Duffy with ‘Lapuccino 2’ (ISH), owned by Carl Hanley Sporthorses, also finished with five faults. Ireland’s anchor rider, Co Louth’s Mark McAuley with ‘Jasco VD Bisschop’, owned by Scea La Tuiliere, then delivered a vital clear, which meant Ireland would be one of the eight teams to make the cut for the second round.
The second round saw Ireland improve further. Duffy and ‘Zilton SL Z’ finished with just a time fault second time out, while Howley and ‘Arlo De Blondel’ lowered a single fence for four faults. Michael G Duffy and the Irish Sport Horse ‘Lapuccino 2’ added a perfect clear before McAuley completed his double clear performance with ‘Jasco VD Bisschop’. That left Ireland on a final score of 11 faults and just over a fence off winners Czech Republic, who lifted the trophy on home soil on a final score of six faults. Denmark finished on eight faults to claim runner-up spot, while halfway leaders Belgium finished third on nine faults.
Speaking afterwards, Irish team manager Michael Blake said: “Firstly, I want to congratulate the Czech team on a fantastic performance to take victory in their home Nations Cup.
“They are an up-and-coming team and today they fully deserved their win, which is great for the sport.
“We recovered well in the second round, with three of our riders not touching a pole and credit to the lads they dug in after a somewhat disappointing first round and we were the best team in the second round.
“The slip for ‘Zilton SL Z’ proved costly, as he looked like he was heading for a clear round, but these things can happen. We have a very busy period ahead now, with some important competitions in our preparations for the Olympics and European Championships and I want to thank all the riders, owners, grooms and connections for the support they once again gave in the lead up to this competition.”
On Sunday, Derry’s David Simpson recorded a brilliant win in the three-star Grand Prix in Prague. Riding the 11-year-old gelding ‘Foudre F’, Simpson finished just under half a second ahead of German runner-up Philip Houston with ‘Sandros S Bella’, while Galway’s Michael Duffy finished in sixth place with ‘Zilton Sl Z’.
Lapuccino 2 (ISH) – 2008 stallion by SIEC Livelllo (HOLST) out of Cabaret III (BHD). Breeder: Sven Kapp, Co. Galway. Owner: Carl Hanley Sporthorses GmbH. Rider: Michael G Duffy (IRL).