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Another clear from the second UAE rider Hamad Ali Al Kirbi kept them on a four-fault score before Jack Ryan entered the arena for his second round. Just as he did in the first round, the Kilkenny rider and ‘BBS McGregor’ jumped an outstanding round to complete a double clear performance.
Ali Hamad Al Kirbi produced another clear for the UAE as third to go in the second round, meaning the home team would finish on a two-round total of just four faults, with three second round clears. Ireland needed a clear from one of their two remaining riders to take victory and they took their first opportunity to do so when David Simpson completed a brilliant double clear performance with ‘Foudre F’, meaning Ireland could not be beaten.
Horse Sport Ireland CEO Denis Duggan said afterwards: “Huge congratulations to Michael Blake and his team of Shane Breen, Jack Ryan, David Simpson and Trevor Breen on a brilliant win in the Nations Cup of the United Arab Emirates. This was a really excellent performance – a great start to the season and caps a superb weekend, where Ireland won both Grand Prix competitions and the Nations Cup.”
Irish team manager Michael Blake last week signed a new contract with Horse Sport Ireland through the Olympic cycle to 2024 and, after a tough battle in Abu Dhabi, he was delighted to guide his team to victory.
“The UAE really kept the pressure on us. I wouldn’t have dreamt this morning that it would take six clear rounds to win it!” Blake commented.
“We competed here four times and had three second-place finishes, but I felt this competition was ours to lose today and that we were the best team here, although I didn’t see the UAE coming as strong as they did – it just shows how Show Jumping is developing in this region,” Blake added.
Speaking about Jack Ryan, who was competing in only his second senior Nations Cup, Michael Blake said: “He was on the winning team in Vilamoura (POR) last year, so he’s now made it two wins out of two – that’s impressive!” Blake said. He’s had a long association with the young man who hails from Inistioge in County Kilkenny, Ireland.
“I was at my first Championship with Jack when he was just 11 years old competing in Children on Horses, and it’s extra special that he is riding a home-bred horse here today”, Blake pointed out.
‘BBS McGregor’, bred in Kilkenny by Jack Ryan’s mum Marguerite, is a horse with a story, having recovered from a serious injury early in his life.
“We bred him ourselves and, as a yearling, he got very sick because we think he was kicked in the head by another horse when out in the field. He fell apart physically and we couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him – he was just fading away. But he had a lump on his nose and when it was x-rayed it seems that a tooth went up through the roof of his mouth when he was kicked and he couldn’t eat because of the pain. He’s so much better now and it’s great to see him doing so well and enjoying himself in the ring”, Jack Ryan explained.
The first five-star international Grand Prix of the 2022 season went to Ireland after a stunning performance last Friday morning from Tipperary’s Shane Breen saw him take victory in the €150,000 Longines Grand Prix of the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi with ‘Z7 Ipswich’.
One of nine combinations to make it into the jump-off, Breen produced a magnificent clear second round when second last to go, stopping the clock in 36.68 seconds to take the lead. It looked as though Swedish World No. 4 Henrik von Eckermann and ‘Glamour Girl’ had taken victory when crossing the line in a faster time (34.45) when last to go, but a late-falling pole saw him drop down to fourth place, leaving Breen victorious.
Horse Sport Ireland CEO Denis Duggan said: “Many congratulations to Shane Breen and his owners Team Z7 on a fantastic win with ‘Z7 Ipswich’ in the Longines Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi. This is a great start to the season for Ireland to win the first five-star Grand Prix of 2022 and I also want to wish Michael Blake and all his team the very best of luck in Sunday’s FEI Nations Cup.”
BBS McGregor (ISH) – 2012 gelding by Cardento (HOLST), out of Random Chance (ISH) by Mark Twain (TB) bred and owned by Marguerite Ryan, Co. Kilkenny, ridden by Jack Ryan.
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