AN impressive perfor-mance from Michael Blake’s Irish Show Jumping team of Daniel Coyle, Denis Lynch, Trevor Breen and Shane Sweetnam saw them take third place on the podium in last Friday’s Longines FEI Nations Cup of The Netherlands in Rotterdam, which was broadcast live on RTE 2 television.
Rotterdam was Ireland’s second of four opportunities to gain points in Europe’s top division, and Friday’s result has moved Ireland up to fifth place on the league table with 150 points and
are well-positioned in the race to see which teams will qualify for September’s Nations Cup World Final in Barcelona.
Ireland were drawn first to jump in the opening round and Derry’s Daniel Coyle with the Ariel Grange-owned ‘Legacy’ gave Michael Blake’s team a perfect start, as they came home clear and well inside the time as pathfinder.
Tipperary’s Denis Lynch with ‘Brooklyn Heights’, owned by Molly Ohrstrom, looked to be heading for another Irish clear when second to go, however they picked up four faults at the very last double.
Another Tipperary rider, Cashel’s Trevor Breen, was third in for the Irish with ‘Highland President’, owned by Heather Black.
They were also clear towards the end of their round, but had a fence down on the troublesome last line to finish on four faults.
Cork’s Shane Sweetnam was last to go for Ireland in the first round with the Irish Sport Horse ‘James Kann Cruz’ and the Gizmo Partners-owned gelding delivered a brilliant clear round to keep Ireland well in the hunt. Ireland finished the first round in equal second, as one of four teams on a four fault score, while the home team from The Netherlands held the lead on zero.
Daniel Coyle produced his second brilliant clear at the start of the second round to keep the pressure on the leaders, before Lynch and ‘Brooklyn Heights’ repeated their four fault score from the first round. It looked as though Trevor Breen was going to deliver a clear second round with ‘Highland President’, but the very last fence fell after a slight rub to leave them with four faults. Shane Sweetnam and ‘James Kann Cruz’ (ISH), who was bred by Patrick Connolly and is still just a nine-year-old, completed a hugely impressive double clear round as last to go for Ireland, which left Ireland on a final score of eight faults.
The result hung in the balance until the very last horse left the arena, but ultimately it was the home Dutch team who took victory, as the only team to finish on a zero score. France finished second on the same score as Ireland but in a slightly faster time.
Ireland’s next points-scoring outing in Europe Division 1 will come at Hickstead in Britain on July 29, followed by Ireland’s home Nations Cup for the Aga Khan Trophy at the Dublin Horse Show on Friday, August 19 – both of which will be shown live on RTE television.
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