Ireland finish sixth in French leg of Nations Cup

The Irish Show Jumping team remain in second place on the Longines FEI Nations Cup league table, following a sixth place finish in today’s (Sunday) second round of the series at La Baule in France.

Rodrigo Pessoa’s team were in joint fourth place at the halfway stage on 5 faults. Louth’s Mark McAuley and Utchan De Belheme jumped an impressive clear in the opening round, while Mayo’s Cameron Hanley and Quirex also kept all the poles standing, finishing with just a time fault. Limerick’s Paul O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu finished with 4 faults while Cork’s Shane Sweetnam and Indra Van De Oude Heihoef were the discard score with 8 faults.

Just one fence separated the top six teams heading into the second round. Sweetnam and Indra Van De Oude Heihoef repeated their 8 fault score from round one, before McAuley and Utchan De Belheme finished with 4 faults. Two fences down for O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu meant Ireland had to count one of their 8 fault rounds, although Hanley ensured Ireland remained on a 17 fault total, after an impressive final clear with the Patrick Mielnik-owned Quirex who is just an nine-year-old.

Brazil lifted the La Baule Nations Cup winners trophy for the very first time after finishing on 7 faults, ahead of Netherlands in second (8 faults) and Switzerland in third (9 faults). Spain finished fourth ahead of Germany in fifth and Ireland in sixth. The home team from France had to settle for seventh place ahead of Canada in eighth.

Afterwards Irish team manager Rodrigo Pessoa highlighted the importance of building a large squad to choose from as Ireland look ahead to a very busy period in July,

“It was a tough day at the office. Today we tried some new combinations, which we need to do to get a clear picture, Pessoa said. “We had some very good rounds and were in touch after the first round. We had some small mistakes and in Nations Cup you need to jump at least 50% clear rounds which we could not do today. We have a break now before July which is going to be an extremely busy month for us with four CSIO’s in five weeks. We will do a round-up of the combinations we now have and split them up for July. Nations Cup’s are always tough, the home team from France had a strong team today and finished seventh. We are still second on the league table and put a lot of value on our second place finish in Samorin.”

The result leaves Ireland in second place on the league table while Switzerland are the early leaders. Ireland will have a long break before their next points-scoring round at Falsterbo, Sweden in mid July before their final two rounds at Hickstead and Dublin.

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