Irish squad finish fifth in opening round in Catalonia

Chance of qualifying for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo remain on course

Ireland’s chance of qualifying a show jumping team for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo remains on course following Thursday’s first round of the Longines FEI Nations’ Cup Final in Barcelona.

Seventeen teams lined out in the Catalonian capital with the Irish squad of Waterford's Peter Moloney (Chianti's Champion), Limerick's Paul O'Shea (Skara Glen's Machu Picchu), Offaly's Darragh Kenny (Balou du Reventon) and Meath's Cian O'Connor (PSG Final) finishing fifth on 10 faults.

The defending champions Belgium, winners of the team gold medal at the European Championships in Rotterdam in August, won the class on four faults with France finishing second on five while Sweden and Colombia shared third place on nine.

The top eight teams from Thursday’s opening round go through to Sunday’s final where Ireland will face competition for the sole Olympic place on offer from Colombia and Italy who finished eighth on day one with 12 faults. However, all teams will start on a zero score on Sunday.


Further south down the Eastern coast of Spain, at Oliva, Co Down's Eoin Gallagher won Thursday's 1.45m speed class on Oakingham Stud's eight-year-old Holstein stallion, Di Caprio.

Irish show jumping riders are also competing at three venues in the United States this week with Canada-based Daniel Coyle travelling down to Columbus, Ohio where, in Thursday's opening international 1.45m speed class, the Derry native partnered Ariel Grange's Cita (56.90) into second place behind the USA's Beezy Madden riding Jiva (56.40).

The international para dressage show at Keysoe in England concluded on Thursday with the freestyle to music competitions where Ireland's Rosemary Gaffney won the three-star Grade IV class.

Gaffney, a lecturer at Teagasc’s Kildalton College in Piltown, achieved a score of 74.23 per cent riding her 10-year-old mare Werona on which, earlier in the week, she had won the Grade IV team competition.

In a match, England-based Tamsin Addison saw off fellow Irish international, Lucinda Blakiston Houston, to win the Grade V freestyle on the 11-year-old mare, Donna Siesta (72.21).