Golden Ireland hoping for individual success on Sunday

Shane Sweetnam and Cian O’Connor lie in third and fourth respectively in Gothenburg

Cian O’Connor lies third heading into the individual final in Gothenburg. Photograph: Pontus Lundhal/EPA

Cian O’Connor lies third heading into the individual final in Gothenburg. Photograph: Pontus Lundhal/EPA

 

Ireland, who won team gold when competing under lights in the Ullevi Stadium, Gothenburg, on Friday night, have three riders qualified for Sunday’s individual final, two of whom are through with medal-winning chances.

The leaderboard is currently headed by Peder Fredricson, of the silver medal-winning Swedish team, who is on zero with H&M All In, and he is followed on a penalty score of 2.03 by Martin Fuchs who, with Clooney 51, was on the Swiss team who claimed bronze on Friday night.

Cork native Shane Sweetnam, riding Chaqui Z, lies in third place (2.10) with Co Meath’s Cian O’Connor in fourth on Good Luck (2.25). Tipperary-born Denis Lynch, whose clear on Friday helped Ireland win team gold for just the second time in the 60-year history of the European championships, is currently in 12th place with All Star 5 (7.76).

Speaking following the gold medal win on Friday night, team managed Rodrigo Pessoa commented: “We had this goal since the beginning of the year and our road was a little bumpy. We had some things that happened during the year and this week too, but we stuck together, we said we win together or we lose together and they showed a lot of determination and strength today. I’m really proud of them for sure.”

Shane Sweetnam said of the team’s experience in Gothenburg this week: “It was fairly stressful all week to be honest. We had a big aim all year, but things didn’t go our way. There was a long time between the classes from yesterday to today when we knew we were down to three. We had a good dinner last light, we got together and we said we’ll keep fighting for this. As you know, the Irish are always better as underdogs, and we proved that, so we are very happy to be here now.”

O’Connor, who was anchorman for the team, commented: “We though the lights might work to our advantage, be a bit spooky and might catch out some horses. Our three stallions are all very brave and scopey, and the lights nearly helped them. We were quietly confident that we could do the business, and obviously Shane had a really tough job going first. I was outside warming up when Denis jumped clear and I thought I have to match that now! I don’t even remember the round, it was all kind of a blur, but I do remember going through the finish!”

“What you’re here for is to deliver,” said Lynch. “Sadly, I didn’t do that yesterday (Thursday), which would have given us a better advantage, as I had the last fence down. But tonight I put the ball in the net and did what was expected of me.”

At home this weekend, the main focus is on eventing with the Millstreet international horse trials, which began on Wednesday, running through to Sunday.

Two of the three one-star competitions were completed on Friday, Ballymena’s Charlotte Dixon landing the all-age Gallivan Murphy Hooper Dolan CIC1* class on V Zermie 51 while Co Wicklow-based Katie O’Sullivan won the Irish Sport Horse Studbook CICYH1* section with AKD Cooley Lockdown. Following dressage, Britain’s Amy Bellamy heads the rankings in the Horse Sport Ireland CCI1* class with Grafik.

Australia’s Kevin McNab, a regular visitor to Ireland, tops the leaderboard in the Noel C. Duggan Engineering CCI3* section with Casperelli while Britain’s Izzy Taylor leads the standings in the Connolly’s Red Mills CIC3* class with Be Touchable. James Avery from New Zealand has over four penalty points in hand as he tops the leaderboard in the Sport Ireland CCI2* class on Zazu while his compatriot Jesse Campbell, riding Amsterdam 22, is in pole position following dressage and show jumping in the Eventing Ireland CIC2* class.

As the busy Irish Pony Club summer season draws to an end, 230 members are competing in this weekend’s Holmestead Saddlery national Tetrathlon championships. The swimming and shooting phases took place on Friday, the ride is being staged today at Grove near Fethard with the run phase concluding the championships on Sunday at Clonmel racecourse.

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