IRELAND’S Under-16 pony eventing team swept to victory at the European Championships in Fontainebleau, France, increasing the lead they established after dressage on Friday.
Galway’s Cathal Daniels added to the triumph by winning the Individual Gold, with Tipperary’s Ana O’Brien – daughter of racing’s Aidan O’Brien – claiming Bronze.
Beaten at the last European championships by just one tenth of a point, the Irish team of four took command of proceedings from the first day, and became the first ever Irish European pony team to emerge in the lead after two days of dressage.
With both Britain and the Netherlands in hot pursuit, the Irish produced superb cross country performances to extend the lead over the second-placed British, and today confirmed their championship dominance by producing both a team and individual win after the show jumping phase.
Pony Eventing High Performance Manager Sue Shortt said immediately afterwards today: “I knew in the last few weeks that we had the best team Ireland had ever fielded at the European championships, and their performance was fantastic. I’m delighted for the kids, they deserved everything they won today.
“This is the first time an Irish team has ever led the field after dressage and we owe that to our dressage coach Sue Smallman, who turned the riders inside out in the months leading up to this. Also Tom Slattery was magnificent helping us with the jumping phase, and I do believe that without the wonderful services of our team vet Con Kennedy we wouldn’t be on the podium today.”
“I’d also like to mention our individual rider Kirsty Connell, who did a terrific job finishing in eighth with Little Indian Feather, who is just a seven year-old, and I think is one to watch for the future.”
Horse Sport Ireland Chairman Joe Walsh said:
“This is a brilliant achievement, I want to congratulate all of the riders and their families as well as the Team Manager Sue Shortt, dressage coach Sue Smallman, show jumping coach Tom Slattery, team vet Con Kennedy as well as our High Performance administrator Aileen Cartwright.
“The support of the Irish Sports Council has also been vital as has the contribution of our affiliate body Eventing Ireland, whose members put in so much voluntary effort,” he said.
“I also want to thank the team sponsors Horseware Ireland, Bluegrass Horse Feeds, TRM and Champion Hats” he added.
2012 TEAM PONY EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS
1st) Ireland -GOLD
2nd) Great Britain – SILVER
3rd) Netherlands – BRONZE
2012 INDIVIDUAL PONY EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS
GOLD – Cathal Daniels/Master Murrose (IRL)
SILVER – Louisa Nesbitt/Carrowmore Gemstone (GBR)
BRONZE – Ana O’Brien/Ice Cool Bailey (IRL)
IRELAND’S PONY TEAM WAS:
Cathal Daniels/Master Murrose (1st)
Ana O’Brien/Ice Cool Bailey (3rd)
Lucy Latta/Nono (10th)
Gavin Smiddy/Mr. Hale Bob (37th)
IRELAND’S INDIVIDUAL PONY RIDERS WERE:
Kirsty Connell/Little Indian Feather (8th)
Susannah Berry/Quiverhill Remember Me (Elimin)