The GAIN Irish U16 (Pony) Show Jumping team won the Gold medal at the 2019 European Championships at Strzegom in Poland following a dramatic jump-off with Britain.
The Irish team of Francis Derwin (Cúl Bán Mistress), Niamh McEvoy (Ardfry Skye), John McEntee (Little Smithe) Tom Wachman (Ocean Des As) and Max Wachman (Cuffesgrange Cavalidam (ISH), finished on a three round total of just 4 faults following a competition on the final day which lasted for over six hours.
— Team IRL Equestrian (@TeamIRLEq) August 16, 2019
Ireland began the morning in fourth place, carrying forward just the four faults picked up in the opening competition. All four Irish riders jumped clear in the first round of the team final and as a result Ireland moved into bronze medal position with one round remaining.
Ireland finished the second round of the team final again with a zero score, meaning they would finish on just four faults. France, who had been in a share of the lead with Britain, picked up 12 faults in the final round to finish level with Germany in equal third, while one fence down for Britain meant they would have to jump-off against Ireland for the gold.
All four members of each team went forward to the deciding jump-off and the third place decider saw France take the bronze leaving Germany just outside the medal places in fourth.
Incredibly both teams finished the jump-off on a zero score meaning the combined times would decide the winner.
Ireland were first to come forward, opening up by an incredibly fast clear by John McEntee with Little Smithe in a time of 42.28 seconds. Britain’s first rider, Shaunie Greig with Casino Royale, set off at an incredible pace and jumped clear in 40.08 seconds to put the British in the lead.
Ireland’s second rider Niamh McEvoy with Ardfry Skye lay down the gauntlet by posting another zero penalty round for Ireland in 46.50 seconds. Claudia Moore with Elando van de Roshoeve for Britain then posted a clear in 44.88 seconds to push her side further ahead.
The third Irish rider, Tom Wachman and Ocean des As, had two poles down to finish on 8 penalties, before Lila Bremner with Lapislazuli for the British team went clear in 45.76 seconds.
As Ireland’s final rider, Max Wachman and Cuffesgrange Cavalidam, entered the arena the tension mounted. The Tipperary rider rose to the occasion as the combination claimed a lead for Ireland by going clear in 40.22 seconds, giving Gary Marshall’s side the gold medal.
A delighted Irish team manager Gary Marshall pointed out that the incredible Irish team spirit was key to his team’s success:
“It’s unbelievable, I’m just so proud of them all. I said to them at the start of the day that we just needed to keep jumping clear rounds. I have to say the team spirit we had here was just incredible, everybody was rooting for each other and you don’t win medals without that. I want to thank everyone involved that made this happen.”