Equestrian: Ireland take second for third year in a row at Nations Cup
Ireland picked up eight faults in round two but still held on to second place
The top three teams, including second-place Ireland, winners from the United States, and third-place Australia with Equestrian Sport Productions President, Dublin-born Michael Stone, and ringmaster Steve Rector. Photo: Sportfot
Ireland had to settle for second place for the third year in succession in the four-star show jumping Nations’ Cup which was staged under lights at the Palm Beach Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida on Saturday night.
Nine nations started over a track designed by the USA’s Ken Krome with Colombia, Mexico and Chile failing to progress to the second round. At the halfway stage, the host nation was the only team on a zero score, followed by Ireland on five faults with Canada and Brazil sharing third place on 13.
In the second round, two of the Americans again jumped clear – Andrew Kocher (36) on Squirt Gun and Brian Moggre (18) with MTM Vivre le Reve. Lucas Porter (22) had a fence down with C Hunter but, as the team couldn’t be beaten, there was no need for Adrienne Sternlicht (26) to jump again with Just A Gamble, the quartet completing on just four faults.
Ireland picked up eight faults in round two but still held on to second place as Australia, who were lying joint-fifth at the halfway stage on 17 faults, moved up to finish third on a two-round total of 22.
The Irish quartet, who were led by Horse Sport Ireland’s senior show jumping team manager Michael Blake, comprised Offaly’s Darragh Kenny on his own and Whiterock Farm’s Go Easy de Muze, Cork’s Billy Twomey with his own and Sue Davis’s Lady Lou, Clare’s David Blake riding his own, Gwendolyn Dvorkin and Pine Hollow Farm’s Keoki and Limerick’s Paul O’Shea on Skara Glen’s Chancelloress which is owned by Gerry and Michael Hayden, QBS Equestrian and Skara Glen Stables.
Kenny, who is among a large Irish contingent due to compete in Sunday’s $214,000 Grand Prix at the Palm Beach Equestrian Center, warmed up for the Nations’ Cup on Saturday by winning the $50,000 national Grand Prix on Ann Thompson’s 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, Important De Muze.
There were two wins for Irish riders in Europe on Saturday. Competing at three-star level in Vilamoura, Portugal, Kildare’s Mikey Pender landed the 1.40m jump-off class with Philippe Berthol’s Quialina D while at the two-star show at Kronenberg, The Netherlands, Wexford native Bertram Allen claimed the 1.45m jump-off class on Aiden McGrory’s eight-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, Pacino Amiro.
Ireland’s advancement in international dressage was underlined on Saturday morning in Doha, Qatar where Kate Dwyer recorded the country’s first success in a five-star Grand Prix Special.
The Co Meath rider topped the marks of three of the five judges in the Al Shaqab indoor arena for a combined score of 70.043% with the 14-year-old British-bred gelding Snowdon Faberge which she owns in partnership with her mother Maureen and Alan O’Connor. Belarus’s Hanna Karasiova was second on Zodiak (69.106) with Germany’s Jill de Ridder placing third on Whitney 341 (69.085).
“I am so, so pleased with Fabio (Snowdon Faberge) today,” said Dwyer. “The feeling he gave me in the ring was amazing. The whole test felt much more confident and I really feel we showed a lovely harmony which is so important in dressage. I am delighted with his performance and I know this is only the top of the iceberg of what he can give me. It’s really exciting because he is actually part Shire. We thought originally that he was part Welsh cob but he is part Shire so he is not your typical dressage horse.”
Kildare-based Cathal Daniels, who was recently acclaimed Ireland’s senior leading event rider of 2019 by both Eventing Ireland and The Irish Field, started his seasonal campaign this weekend at Barroca d’Alva in Portugal where he won both the CCI2*-S and the CCI3*-S.
In the higher graded class, Loughrea native Daniels recorded one of just two clears in both show jumping and cross-country to win on his dressage score of 30.7 penalties with OLS King Aragon. Britain’s David Doel finished second on Eisfee (31.9) with Japan’s Kenki Sato placing third on Vick du Gisors (33.6). Picking up 5.6 cross-country time penalties on Saturday, Ireland’s Padraig McCarthy finished sixth on Leonidas II (40).
OLS King Aragon is a nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding by Samgemjee. He is owned Michelle Nelson and Kieran Connors who bred the bay out of their Seamanship mare Just Beauty Queen which competed in two European championships and the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Daniels, who won individual bronze at the European championships in Luhmühlen, Germany last season, led from start to finish to win the CCI2*-S on Sarah Hughes’s Shannondale Mari (26.9). Here, French rider Aurelie Riedweg slotted into second with Rohan du Maneix (28.5) ahead of Japan’s Ryuso Kitajima riding Cekatinka (29.5). Ireland’s Austin O’Connor placed fifth on Isazsa (30).
Shannondale Mari, which was ridden by Elizabeth Power when representing the Irish Sport Horse Studbook at the world young event horse championships in France last October, finishing eighth, is by Shannondale Sarco St Ghyvan. She was bred in Co Clare by Martin Walsh out of the Lux Z mare, Shannondale Maria.