Equestrian: Jason Foley takes gold for Ireland in Fontainebleau
Irish senior team edged out after four-way jump-off in Longines FEI Nations Cup
Bertram Allan and Ireland were edged out in Sweden. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
Ireland won its second gold medal and fourth in total at the Longines FEI European Youth Championships in Fontainebleau, France on Sunday when Jason Foley was crowned individual Junior show jumping champion.
The Carlow rider went into the final day on a converted penalty score of 1.59 which had left him well clear of the second-placed Egor Shchibrik of Russia on 5.32. As that rival dropped right out of contention on Sunday, Foley picked up just four penalties with Castlefield Vegas over two rounds of jumping to take gold ahead of Britain’s Oliver Fletcher on Disckoboy DN (6.20) and Belgium’s Simon Morssinkhof on Vivolta de Gree (11.31).
Westmeath’s Kate Derwin was just outside the medals in fourth with AHG Whiterock Cruise Down while, riding Cavalier Teaca, Kilkenny’s Jack Ryan finished 23rd of the 30 riders who contested Sunday’s individual championship.
Foley’s winning mount Castlefield Vegas, which is owned by Martin Egan and Ger O’Neill, is an eight-year-old grey gelding by Cassino and was bred in Co Cavan by John Clarke out of the Luz Z mare Clarkes Quiet Optimistic. In winning on Sunday, Foley bridged a gap of 42 years since Ireland last won European Under-18 gold through Brian McMahon.
“I am an incredibly proud man today,” said Irish youth team manager James Kernan who himself won European gold as a Junior in 1974. “Jason is just a brilliant horseman and deserves incredible credit for what he has achieved. There was a great team spirit, we all pulled together and a special mention to Ger O’Neill for all his help with Castlefield Vegas.
“I have to thank all involved, Liam Buckley and the support staff, parents, sponsors and Horse Sport Ireland, their support meant we could have the best possible preparation. For such a small nation as ours to win four medals at this European Championships is unbelievable and the other nations are looking up to us after our results.”
At Young Riders level, Ireland’s Lucinda Roche (WCE Falco) and Susan Fitzpatrick (Fellow Castlefield) finished 10th and 11th respectively behind Britain’s gold medal winner, Harry Charles.
The Irish senior team of Bertram Allen (Gin Chin van het Lindenhof), Mark McAuley (Utchan de Belheme), Daniel Coyle (Cita) and Paul O’Shea (Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu) just failed to land the Longines FEI Nations Cup at Falsterbo, Sweden on Sunday.
Ireland led at the halfway stage of the two-round competition on a zero score but, with four faults in round two, went into a four-way jump-off with The Netherlands, Sweden and Italy. Team manager Rodrigo Pessoa selected Coyle to go against the clock and, while clear with Ariel Grange’s Cita in 40.47, that was just good enough to leave Ireland second to The Netherlands whose Johnny Pals was clear in 39.33 on Chat Botte du Ruisseau Z. Sweden finished third ahead of Italy.
“We had a good first round and we were getting pressurised in the second round from several teams - Italy, Netherlands and Sweden,” commented Pessoa. “Our last two riders were really solid. Daniel gave it a fair try in the jump-off. The Dutch rider gave it all or nothing to take the win. All our guys did a great job today. This was a good way to start this triple-header. We move now to Aachen (Germany) on Thursday. We head there with a fresh squad and although it is not part of the league, it will be an important Nations’ Cup for us to build confidence.”
Sunday’s result leaves Ireland eighth of 10 nations in the Europe Division 1 league table and with some of the teams ahead having no further opportunity to gain points, Ireland have the chance to rise further up the table in their remaining two rounds at Hickstead and Dublin.
Kilkenny’s Richie Moloney enjoyed a successful weekend in Tyron, North Carolina when adding a win in Sunday’s featured 1.45m Derby to that he recorded in Saturday’s Grand Prix.
For the Derby, Moloney elected to ride Equinimity’s Merqusio and the grey proved the correct choice when one of two horses to leave all the fences intact in round one and then being the only one to repeat the feat against the clock. Picking up eight faults in the timed round, Chile’s Samuel Parot finished second with Quick du Pottier. Ireland’s David O’Brien finished third and fourth on Kir Royal SCF and Kioki Coffee SCF which both had a fence down in round one.