The Irish Show Jumping team claimed their third podium finish of the season, after taking runner-up spot behind Britain in the $150,000 Wellington Nations Cup in Florida, USA.
Teams represented Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Britain, Ireland, Mexico, United States, and Venezuela in the competition, with Ireland bidding to win the Wellington Nations Cup for the third year in-a-row.
Cork’s Shane Sweetnam was first in for Ireland with Indra Van De Oude Heihoef and with the grey mare got his team off to the perfect start with a clear round. Limerick’s Paul O’Shea with Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu then delivered a second clear to put Ireland in a strong position. Denis Lynch from Tipperary was the discard score in the first round when picking up eight faults with RMF Cadeau De Muze, while Ireland’s anchor rider, Meath’s Cian O’Connor, finished with five faults aboard Clenur. This left Ireland in fourth place at the halfway stage on five faults.
The second round saw both Shane Sweetnam and Paul O’Shea again deliver clear rounds (a feat also achieved by O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu in Wellington last year), as Ireland kept the pressure on the leaders Britain along with Mexico and Brazil who were sharing second place after round one.
A clear round from Denis Lynch meant Ireland would remain on their first round total of five faults without the need for Cian O’Connor to jump with Clenur. Britain’s team of Amanda Derbyshire, Ben Maher, Emily Mason and Emily Moffitt took the winner’s prize with a two round total of zero faults, while Mexico with riders Eugenio Garza, Mario Onate, Andres Azcarraga, and Nicolas Pizarro took third place on the podium with 10 faults.
The excellent Irish performance comes after another Nations Cup runner-up finish in the United Arab Emirates last month, while Ireland finished third in the Ocala Nations Cup in Florida a fortnight ago.
Ireland’s focus now moves to their all-important first points-scoring Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup in Europe Division 1 at Samorin, Slovakia, in April, followed by La Baule (France), Falsterbo (Sweden), Hickstead (Britain) and Ireland’s home Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse Show in August where the Aga Khan trophy will be awarded.