Irish quartet win at the European pony championships
Ciaran Nallon, Harry Allen, Abbie Sweetnam and Kate Derwin win show jumping team competition
Ireland won the European pony championships show jumping team competition in Hungary. Photograph: Inpho
Ireland was lying fifth of 10 after Thursday’s opening round on four faults, with Britain and France sharing the lead on zero. However, the Irish fought back over two demanding rounds of jumping on Friday when they went clear to claim gold with Britain finishing second (eight) ahead of The Netherlands (10).
“These kids were unbelievable,” commented team manager, Gary Marshall. “I told them at the start of this week that their name was on this gold medal, this was their time but they had to fight for it to make it happen. It was very tight throughout the competition but they stuck to their guns.
“I always knew they were mentally strong, I told them they were the best five riders in Europe and they believed in themselves. Our fifth man, Seamus Hughes Kennedy, was here throughout the competition supporting his teammates and he, and along with our other riders, has a great chance to add individual medals on Sunday.
“This win is down to the course builders, equestrian centres, coaches and vets at home in Ireland,” continued Marshall. “They deserve an incredible amount of credit for their role in preparing these riders for when they go abroad. I also want to thank those running the HSI high performance programme and the staff at Horse Sport Ireland who backed me to do what we needed to do behind the scenes.”
The senior team of Daniel Coyle, Richard Howley, Richie Moloney and Shane Sweetnam finished fifth (17 faults) in Friday’s Nations’ Cup at a rain-swept Hickstead where, on the country’s debut in the competition, Brazil won on four faults. The Netherlands finished second (14) with Switzerland in third (16). The result moves Ireland up a place to sixth on the Nations’ Cup league table with just one round remaining in the Aga Khan competition at the Dublin Horse Show on Friday, August 11th.
“Conditions were tough but it was the same for everyone and they moved the fences to give us fresh ground in the second round,” said team manager Rodrigo Pessoa. “I am of course delighted for Brazil to win if it wasn’t going to be Ireland, they put in some really good rounds. Our two biggest events of the season now come over the next few weeks, the Aga Khan in Dublin and the European Championships. We will try to do well on home soil and hope we can clinch a win there.”
Earlier in the day, Coyle won the 1.45m speed competition on Susan Grange’s Simba de la Roque.
Following on from last week’s European championships for Young Riders and Juniors in Millstreet, international eventing action continues this week at Camphire Castle in Co Waterford. After two days of dressage, Ireland’s Sam Watson leads the CCI3* class on Ardagh Highlight and the CCI2* section with Imperial Sky. In a field of 46, Australia’s Kevin McNab dominates the CIC2* class, holding the top four placings.
Show jumping and cross-country takes place on both Saturday and Sunday.