The Irish Show Jumping team claimed the runner-up position in the FEI Nations Cup CSIO4* at Wellington in Florida overnight, as the home side, USA, claimed the victory in a jump-off.
Ireland and USA finished the two-round competition on 8 faults each meaning the nine-team $150,000 Nations Cup CSIO4* was decided by a jump-off for just the second time in its 18-year history at the Winter Equestrian Festival
Daniel Coyle riding Farona and Lorcan Gallagher with Hunters Conlypso II both jumped double clear rounds. Shane Sweetnam and Kirschwasser SCF finished with one fence down in the opening round and eight in the second, while Paul O’Shea and Imerald Van’t Voorhof finished with one fence down in each round, leaving the Michael Blake-managed side on a two-round score of eight faults, level with the USA.
Coyle and Farona were selected to go against the clock but the Irish combination unfortunately finished with 12 faults as World No.2 rider McLain Ward and Contagious jumped clear to secure victory for the home team which also consisted of Wilton Porter, Beezie Madden and Adrienne Sternlicht. Canada finished third on 13 faults with Nikke Walker producing a double-clear with her own Falco van Spieveld.
Ireland’s second-place finish was all the more impressive considering the team of four riders competed on horses that had never been in a Nations Cup competition before.
Lorcan Gallagher, who was competing in only his second senior Nations Cup, commented:
“It’s a bittersweet night, but I’m very happy and proud with my own horse tonight and the American team was very competitive. We were all on horses that were competing in a Nations Cup for the first time. Obviously we are disappointed we didn’t get the win when we were that close. Each round, a couple of rails fell that maybe wouldn’t have another day, but it’s great to have this competition here for us and to see what the horses are capable of. [We are] building towards qualifying for Barcelona and for the European Championships to qualify for the Olympics. We still haven’t done that, so that is the main goal.”