Ireland miss out on Nations’ Cup hat-trick bid in Florida
Britain victorious after recording the only double clear in the four-star competition
Denis Lynch and Ireland missed out on a Nations’ Cup hat-trick in Florida. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
Ireland’s bid for a hat-trick of Nations’ Cup wins in Wellington, Florida failed narrowly on Saturday night as, on a two-round total of five faults, the team had to settle for second place behind Great Britain who recorded the only double clear in the four-star competition.
Jumping commenced at 7.0pm local time with nine teams competing over a 1.50m course designed by Ken Krome of the USA. Cork native Shane Sweetnam was first in for Ireland with The Blue Buckle Group’s Indra Van De Oude Heihoef and got the country off to the perfect start with a clear round. Limerick’s Paul O’Shea with Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu (owned by Skara Glen’s Stables), then delivered a second clear to put the team in a strong position.
Tipperary’s Denis Lynch provided the discard score in the first round after picking up eight faults with the Rushy Marsh Farm-owned RMF Cadeau De Muze while Ireland’s anchor rider, Meath’s Cian O’Connor, finished with five faults aboard Armin Himmereich’s Clenur. This left Ireland in fourth place at the halfway stage on five faults which got them through to the second round as, surprisingly, the USA and Canada failed to qualify as did Argentina.
Round two saw both Sweetnam and O’Shea again deliver clear rounds, as Ireland kept the pressure on the leaders Britain along with Mexico and Brazil who were sharing second place after round one on four faults apiece.
A third clear from Lynch meant Ireland would remain on their first round total of five faults without the need for O’Connor to jump Clenur. Britain took the winners’ prize with a two-round total of zero ahead of Ireland in second, while Mexico took third place on the podium with 10 faults. The British team comprised Amanda Derbyshire, Ben Maher, Emily Mason and Emily Moffitt. Derbyshire rode the Irish Sport Horse mare Luibanta BH, a 10-year-old Luidam bay which was bred in Co Galway by Justin Burke.
“I’m really pleased with our riders,” said Irish development team manager, Michael Blake. “We jumped five clear rounds which normally would be good enough to win but, hats off to Britain, they were fantastic and deserving winners on the night.
“It would have been nice to win here for the third year in-a-row but it got a small bit away from us in the first round. We battled back well in the second round with really good double clear rounds from Shane Sweetnam and Paul O’Shea. Denis Lynch gave us a clear to leave us on zero in the second round without Cian needing to jump. We tried out some new combinations which is what you need to do to build a squad. I want to especially thank all our horses’ owners for their fantastic support.”
County Offaly’s Darragh Kenny recorded the only double clear to win Friday’s 1.50m National Grand Prix at the Palm Beach Equestrian Centre on Jack Snyder’s 13-year-old Oldenburg mare Babalou. Shane Sweetnam finished fourth with four faults in round two on Spy Coast Farm’s Kirschwasser SCF.
“I always thought she was a really super horse and I thought she would be a suitable ride for me,” said Kenny of Babalou 41, his mount of six weeks. "It ended up working out for me and the owners for me to ride the horse. She has so much quality. She’s so careful and so scopey. I normally get on really well with mares.”
Following two days of rain which halted competition, action resumed on Saturday at Vejer de la Frontera in Spain where Sligo’s Richard Howley won the featured 1.50m speed class with the Dutch Warmblood mare Electra B in a time of 57.40. Mayo’s Michael G. Duffy finished sixth when clear on Chappo Chey in 61.18.
In dressage, Ireland’s James Connor riding the 11-year-old Hannoverian gelding Riesling finished joint-fourth, on a score of 67.294 per cent, in the Intermédiare 1 class in Nice on Saturday. The winner was Austria’s Ulrike Prunthaller on Bartlgut’s Quantum (70.765). At the French venue the previous day, Connor partnered Riesling into fifth place (65.412) in the Prix St-Georges where Prunthaller also topped the leaderboard on Bartlgut’s Quantum (70.176).