Ireland finish third in Nations’ Cup World Final in Catalonia

Jonathan Corrigan posted the fastest time to win Saturday’s Grand Prix in Tryon

The Irish senior show jumping team finished the season when third in the Longines FEI Nations' Cup World Final in Barcelona on Sunday.

Following Friday night’s opening session, eight nations progressed to the final where just four clear rounds were recorded from 32 starters over the 1.60m course set by Spain’s Santiago Varela. The lead changed hands several times before Belgium, on a total of 12 faults, claimed the 2018 title. France and Ireland finished on 16 faults apiece, with the former taking second on time.

Cork's Billy Twomey was first out for the Irish team with Kim Barzilay's Kimba Flamenco and finished with just one fence down. Waterford's Anthony Condon also came home with four faults with his own and John Hales's SFS Aristio which left Ireland a close-up fourth at the halfway stage.

Making his first appearance in a five-star Nations' Cup competition, Michael G. Duffy from Co Mayo looked to be heading for a clear round when third to go with Carl Hanley Sporthorses' Irish Sport Horse gelding Lapuccino 2, but as for many others, the last line proved costly with two poles hitting the deck. The result hung in the balance as Co Offaly's Darragh Kenny, came in with Ann Thompson's Balou Du Reventon but he too picked up eight faults down the last line of fences.


“We are pretty pleased, we came close to doing something really special,” said Irish team manager, Rodrigo Pessoa. “Clear rounds were hard to come by and we came close to forcing a jump-off but, in the end, we have to be satisfied with finish third.

“Many times this year we have come close without finishing the job. We have to now reflect on those fences we have down which are the ones which prove costly. All-in-all, the season has been a good one although the World Games in Tryon was of course disappointing. But overall we have introduced a lot of new horses and riders to our squad which will be really good for the future.”

On Saturday, 21-year-old Duffy partnered Chappo Chey (38.52) into third place in the 1.50m jump-off class won by the USA's Jessica Springsteen riding RMF Swinny du Parc (38.04). Belgium's Pieter Devos finished second on Gin D (38.36).

Ireland had plenty of placings but no wins in the international jumping classes at the Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham which concluded on Sunday night with the leading show jumper of the year competition, a two-round jump-off class over 1.60m.

Of the five Irish riders in a starting line-up of 26, only Tipperary's Trevor Breen progressed to the second round. There, he again jumped clear with the 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion Golden Hawk (41.57) to finish third behind Belgium's Karel Cox on Evert (38.23) and Britain's Nigel Coupe on the 15-year-old ISH gelding Golvers Hill (40.43).

Irish riders and Irish-bred horses were to the fore in Saturday night’s 1.45m Grand Prix at the two-star show in Tryon, North Carolina where just seven of the 34 starters made it through to the jump-off round with three riders recording a second clear.

Of these, Co Meath's Jonathan Corrigan posted the fastest time to win on Twin Oaks Stables' ISH gelding Loughnavatta Indigo (42.216), a Ricardo nine-year-old bred in Co Tipperary by Rory Costigan out of Loughnavatta Sabrina (by VDL Arkansas). The USA's Lauren Tisbo finished second with Jeleena de Muze (42.97) ahead of Co Sligo's Darragh Kerins and Ringwood Zebo (43.88), a nine-year ISH by Califax. With one fence down against the clock, Kerins also placed fourth on Chill R Z.

“I have a tendency to go a little bit too fast in the jump-off, so today I tried to be a little smoother and tighter and not pull on the reins or kick as much and it worked,” remarked Corrigan who purchased Loughnavatta Indigo last autumn. “I jumped him here in the two-star last year and that was his first night class. He was little green, but he jumped clear. Since then, he’s improved a lot, and even jumped his first five-star a couple of weeks ago.”

“He’s a good horse. He’s got a lot of personality, more personality than any other horse I’ve had. He might look plain but he’s very sensitive and a very good boy. We might do the three-star next week or we will wait and do the five-star the week after that.”