THERE were celebrations in the Irish camp last Sunday, as the Irish Under 16 (Pony) Show Jumping team secured the top spot in the FEI Youth Nations Cup World Finals at Opglabbeek in Belgium to claim the first ever World Championship title!
Gary Marshall and his team of Ella Quigley (‘Clemens’), Charlotte Houston (‘Toscane Davnir’), Katie Power (‘Ghost Rider’ ISH) and Seamus Hughes-Kennedy (‘Rock Dee Jay’) went into the final leading with 300 points following three fabulous Nation Cup wins.
All the teams had to compete last Friday in order to qualify for the final on Sunday. Those teams that didn’t qualify on Friday, had a consolation class on Saturday.
At the end of the qualifier, Team Ireland were joint leaders with Great Britain and Belgium, who were all on a zero score – although all the teams started from scratch going into Sunday’s final.
The final consists of only one round of jumping, not two, followed by a jump off. Only one rider goes into the jump off, not all four, so it’s a different format than usual.
Only two teams ended up on zero after the first round – Ireland and Belgium. Britain was on eight faults; France on 16; and Netherlands on 17.
Team Ireland had the benefit of being last to go in the jump off and Gary had chosen Seamus as the team member to jump.
He had been on the winning team at the same venue at the start of the year and also won the Grand Prix at the same show.
Gary was thrilled with the team and, of his selection, he said: “I went with a decision of having fresher legs, a different team (from the European Championships) and it worked! I am lucky I have a good pool of riders to pick from.
“In the final, I stayed with the same order of the riders – Ella jumped clear; as did Charlotte; then Katie and she had eight faults, so that meant that Seamus had to go clear and he did! He stayed cool under pressure… but hey, pressure is only for tyres! So then we had a jump off and the rest is history!”
Very well done to Gary and all his team members and supporters – keep up the good work!