Equestrian: Ireland crowned European pony show jumping champions
Irish team victorious after six-hour competition ends in a jump-off in Poland
Ireland were crowned European pony show jumping champions following a six-hour final competition on Friday at Strzegom in Poland. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Ireland were crowned European pony show jumping champions following a six-hour final competition on Friday at Strzegom in Poland where a jump-off was required to decide the medal positions.
The Irish team of Niamh McEvoy (Ardfry Skye), John McEntee (Little Smithe) Tom Wachman (Ocean Des As), and Max Wachman (Cuffesgrange Cavalidam, started the morning in fourth place - carrying forward just the four faults picked up in Thursday’s opening leg when fifth team member, Franno Derwin (Cul Ban Mistress), also competed.
All four Irish riders jumped clear in the first round of Friday’s 10-nation final which moved them into the Bronze medal position and, jumping clear again in the second round, meant they finished on just four faults. France, who had been in a share of the lead with Britain on zero, picked up 12 faults in the final round to finish level with Germany in equal third, while one fence down for Britain meant they would have to jump-off against Ireland for Gold.
All four members of each team went forward to the jump-offs and the third place decider saw France (four faults in 136.75) take Bronze leaving Germany (four faults in 148.32) just outside the medal places in fourth. The Gold medal decider produced one of the most exciting jump-offs in recent memory. At the finish, both teams completed on zero meaning the combined times would decide the winner. Ireland (129) claimed the Gold when just under two seconds faster than Britain (130.72) who took Silver.
A delighted Irish team manager Gary Marshall pointed out that team spirit was key to success: “It’s unbelievable, I’m just so proud of them all. I said to them at the start of the day that we just needed to keep jumping clear rounds. I have to say the team spirit we had here was just incredible, everybody was rooting for each other and you don’t win medals without that.
“I want to thank everyone involved that made this happen. There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes from parents, coaches and everyone working at Horse Sport Ireland. Everyone played their part and it was a real team effort and a special mention for the supporters we had out here and all the messages of support from people back home.”
Horse Sport Ireland CEO Ronan Murphy added: “Huge congratulations to the Irish team, their parents and team manager, Gary Marshall, on an exceptional result to take home another medal for Ireland at a major championships. They showed incredible composure to jump clear in all three rounds on the final day and to come out on top after a thrilling jump-off. This comes on the back of a European team bronze and individual Gold for Ireland at Junior level earlier this year and shows the level of talent and coaching we have in Ireland is exceptional.”
Max Wachman is among a group of four riders who head into Sunday’s individual final on a zero score, while Niam McEvoy and Tom Wachman are just outside the medal places on four faults.
Meanwhile the Becky Cullen-managed Irish team of Alex Connors (Millridge Buachaill Bui), Grace Tyrrell (Fiona’s Fionn), Tiggy Hancock (Coppenagh Spring Sparrow) and Brian Kuehnle (Tullibards Sixth Sense) are in fourth place heading into Saturday’s cross-country phase of the European pony eventing championships which are also taking place in Strzegom. Competing there as individuals are Susan Shanahan (Fernhill Mix And Match) and Olivia Swan (Rockon Pedro).
Ireland have two representatives in the European pony dressage championships at the Polish venue. Riding Valido’s Starlight, Martha Jobling-Purser finished 18th of the 32 competitors who rode their individual test on Friday while Sadhbh O’Connor competes on Saturday with Maverick S.
At senior rider level, Co Down’s Conor Swail finished second in Friday’s 1.50m speed class at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, Canada. Riding Vanessa Mannix’s GK Coco Chanel, Swail stopped the clock on 69.17 with Israel’s Ashlee Bond winning in 67.57 on Donatello 141.