Blake hopeful of Wellington Nations Cup success with strong squad

  • 27 February 2023, 17:06

Michael Blake is hopeful of a strong showing from the Underwriting Exchange Irish Show Jumping squad in what promises to be a fiercely-contested four-star FEI Nations Cup on Saturday in Wellington (USA).

Ireland have already secured podium finishes in four and five-star Nations Cups this season, finishing second in Sharjah and third in Abu Dhabi, and now the Ireland team manager is hopeful Ireland can gain a first success in 2023.

Co Clare’s Blake has named his squad for Saturday’s CSIO4* event, with familiar combinations lining out in the green jacket in Florida as Ireland face 10 other nations.

The squad will consist of David Blake with Claude, Cian O’Connor with Berlux Z, Shane Sweetnam with Namaste Van Het Eyckeveld, Max Wachman with Kilkenny (ISH) and Daniel Coyle with Legacy.

“I’ve named a strong squad, with all the combinations showing good recent form but there will be plenty of strong teams in opposition and they’ll be coming here with the same idea as us – looking to win,” Blake said.

“Statistically, Belgium are the strongest team in the world, judged on their Nations Cup successes last year. But Canada will be hoping for a strong showing here too under new Chef D’Equipe Ian Millar. Throw in America, Mexico, United Kingdom, it’s going to be very strong.

2022 Aga Khan winners Ireland (l-r) Cian O’Connor, Shane Sweetnam, Michael Blake, Conor Swail and Max Wachman (Photo Sonya Hennessy)

“This has the potential to be a very important weekend for us as obviously I’m always looking to the future and to see what horses could be breaking through to the top level for us.

“So I think we have a very strong team for Saturday, even though the other nations have too – many of the world’s top riders are here. We’re very much looking forward to the week.

“There’s also a lot of Irish support out here – plenty have travelled to be here so we’ll be very hopeful of a good result.”

The FEI Jumping Nations Cup CSIO4* takes place at Wellington on Saturday, March 2nd – follow Horse Sport Ireland on social media through the week for more news and updates from the team in Wellington.

The Underwriting Exchange Irish Show Jumping squad is as follows:

Clare’s David Blake with Claude, owned by Pine Hollow Farm.
Meath’s Cian O’Connor with Berlux Z, owned by Coolmore Showjumping.
Cork’s Shane Sweetnam with Namaste Van Het Eyckeveld, owned by Shane Sweetnam.
Tipperary’s Max Wachman with Kilkenny (ISH), owned by Susan Magnier.
Derry’s Daniel Coyle with Legacy, owned by Daniel Coyle.

Kilkenny (ISH) – 2012 gelding by Cardento (HOLST) out of MHS Pembrook Lady (ISH) by Guidam (SF), bred by Sinead Brennan, Co Kilkenny. Owner Susan Magnier. Rider Max Wachman.

The Irish Show Jumping team is sponsored by The Underwriting Exchange
Charles Ancona – Official athlete clothing supplier to HSI’s Senior Olympic programmes