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The Irish Show Jumping team finished in fifth place in Friday Longines FEI Nations Cup of France in La Baule.
The Michael Blake-managed team consisted of Shane Sweetnam, Darragh Kenny, Bertram Allen and Cian O’Connor.
Ireland, who are the reigning Longines FEI Nations Cup world champions, were in share of the lead with Switzerland at the halfway stage on a zero score.
Shane Sweetnam was the first Irish rider to enter the arena with Karlin Van’t Vennehof and they left all the fences standing – finishing with just a time fault.
Darragh Kenny then jumped clear with VDL Cartello and that was followed by another perfect clear from Bertram Allen with The Irish Sport Horse Pacino Amiro.
Ireland were assured to finish the first round on at worst just a time fault and in second place with the last line riders left to jump but a clear from anchor rider Cian O’Connor would put Ireland in a share of the lead with Switzerland.
A clear round from O’Connor and the Irish Sport Horse Kilkenny saw Ireland match the Swiss first round effort of a zero score heading into round two. Britain and Italy were lurking close behind in joint third on just a time fault while Belgium were also in the hunt on four faults.
Sweetnam got Ireland underway in the second round with a four fault score – the same as the first Swiss rider, meaning the two countries still could not be separated. Italy began to apply the pressure when their first rider in the second round jumped clear.
Darragh Kenny looked set to complete a double clear performance but a foot in the water saw him finish with four faults aboard VDL Cartello. That moved Italy into the lead on a time fault, with Ireland, Switzerland and Belgium then tied for second on four faults with two riders remaining for each team.
Bertram Allen and Pacino Amiro (ISH) also finished with four faults second time out and that put Ireland onto a best possible score of eight faults heading into the last line of riders.
Cian O’Connor and Kilkenny (ISH) came close to a double clear round when last to go, however the very last fence fell to leave them with the same four fault score as his three fellow team members in the second round.
A strong finish by Switzerland saw them claim victory on a four fault score while Italy took runner-up spot on seven faults. Belgium on eight faults took third with Britain fourth (9 faults) just ahead of Ireland in fifth on 12 faults.
Ireland’s next five-star FEI Nations Cup outing in Europe Division 1 will be at Sopot in Poland next Friday, June 18th.