Ireland lift Aga Khan trophy after eight-year interval
IRISH SHOWJUMPING stepped back on to the world stage again yesterday, as the Aga Khan trophy came home after eight years.
The coveted gold trophy was held aloft by an Irish team made up of an Olympic medallist and three young guns who jumped in the RDS as pony riders.
Childhood dreams came true for Clones man Clement McMahon, Kilkenny’s Richie Moloney, Sligo rider Darragh Kerins and Ratoath Olympian Cian O’Connor, who set the RDS main arena alight with an emotional Aga Khan win yesterday.
Robert Splaine’s dream team not only took home the Aga Khan, they finished third overall in the FEI Nations Cup top league behind France and Germany, avoiding relegation.
The spectacular bay, eight-year-old, French-bred stallion Pacino, used by hundreds of Irish breeders, stole the show with a double clear round performance for Clement McMahon, as his toddler son Louis and wife Stacey cheered him on from the stands.
Pacino’s owner Maureen McMahon said: “It is a wonderful day, the lads were brilliant. We are very proud and Pacino was amazing.”
Tom Moloney, his wife and the Moloney family from Warrington Equestrian Centre in Kilkenny, were in the pocket with Mr and Mrs Francie Kerins and the Darragh Kerins connections from Tubberbride Equestrian Centre in Sligo.
Clones and Monaghan supporters of the McMahon family from Hillview Stud were at the show in their droves to see the super stallion Pacino impress yet again at only eight years.
Even Horsesport Ireland director Damien McDonald couldn’t contain himself.
“A European junior team gold last night, an Olympic medal last week, the pony Europeans gold, medals for many of our individuals and now the Aga Khan trophy with a brilliant team and exceptional horses.”
Robert Splaine’s squad collected €64,000 finishing on five penalties ahead of France on eight penalties for €40,000 and Great Britain in third for €32,000.
Midway, Ireland were leading on one penalty, ahead of France and Sweden on four faults, but even then Splaine didn’t count his chickens. “I know what can happen in this competition and how things can change.”
In the first round McMahon steered the scopey and handsome Pacino to a stunning clear, while US-based Richie Moloney and the athletic chestnut Ahorn Van De Zuuthoeve were clear but for a time fault.
Darragh Kerins with Lisona, bred by Capt John Ledingham in Enfield, out of his Porsche mare by the Limerick-based stallion OBOS Quality, showed a clean pair of heels for a beautiful clear round. Cian O’Connor and the perky Blue Lloyd went clear to the last but tipped it to become the discard score leaving Ireland on one penalty point.
Alan Wade’s track looked straightforward, but the second-last Liverpool with water tray took its toll. As visiting US FEI judge of the earlier event finals Roger Haller observed: “There were faults at every single fence. This competition was superb, with it all hinging on the last riders of the top three teams.”