Ireland dominate field for stunning five-star Aachen Nations Cup win

  • 4 July 2024, 22:26

The Irish Senior Show Jumping team and support staff celebrate after their superb win in the CSIO5* Nations Cup in Aachen

The Underwriting Exchange Irish Show Jumping Team produced a magnificent display in Aachen, Germany, to win the five-star €1million Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup – the final top-level outing before the Paris Olympic Games.

Michael Blake’s team of of Denis Lynch, Bertram Allen, Shane Sweetnam and Cian O’Connor dominated a high-class field of the best countries in the world to finish on a zero score and win without anchor rider Cian O’Connor even needing to jump in round two.

It is the perfect confidence boost ahead of the Olympic Games in just over three weeks, and Horse Sport Ireland High Performance Show Jumping Director Blake couldn’t hide his delight after the stunning success.

Blake said: “My God, that was brilliant – to a man, they were fantastic. This was a Nations Cup that we had identified as a target ahead of Paris and the lads have delivered. To win with a rider to spare shows how good these four lads and their horses are, and I couldn’t be prouder.

“I always say how much of a privilege it is – and what an honour it is – to win a Nations Cup, and it really is a special group of riders we have in the green jacket at the moment.

“All roads now lead to Paris and I guess this sets us up perfectly for the Games – hopefully now the horses can stay nice and fresh and we can put in a performance like this to make Ireland proud.

“We have a wonderful team of support staff too – our vets, grooms, the girls in the office and everyone who contributes to the High Performance programme, it doesn’t go unnoticed and it’s very much a team effort – they all deserve a big thank you and well done.”

Denis Lynch and Vistogrand were first into the ring for Ireland and got off to the worst possible start as Vistogrand seemed to become distracted on his way to the first fence and dropped a pole.

From then on, however, the Tipperary man and his partner were foot perfect – showing why Lynch thinks so highly of his mount as the pair finished on a score of four faults.

It would prove to be Ireland’s discard score from round one as the remaining three boys in green would jump clear, much to Blake’s delight.

Shane Sweetnam and the Irish Sport Horse James Kann Cruz jumped a double clear at the CSIO5* Nations Cup in Aachen

Wexford’s Allen was the first of those with Pacino Amiro (ISH) and the combination really settled things down for Ireland, jumping superbly for zero faults, before Corkman Sweetnam and his stunning grey James Kann Cruz (ISH) never looked like posting anything but a faultless round.

Meath’s O’Connor, so often Ireland’s anchor rider, on board his ultra-talented nine-year-old Fancy De Kergane, was once again in the pressure position but was icy cool for another clear to leave his team lying perfectly poised to attack in round two.

After the break, Lynch, almost as if he had a point to prove, guided Vistogrand expertly around the arena for his own clear round to keep Ireland on a zero score as other nations began to make mistakes.

Allen and his wonderful 12-year-old Pacino Amiro oozed confidence in the second round and a double clear never looked in doubt as hopes really began to rise that Ireland’s final five-star Nations Cup outing before Paris would end in victory.

It was down to Sweetnam and the Irish Sport Horse James Kann Cruz to seal it – effortlessly jumping around the Aachen arena to a clear round as the team finish the competition on a zero total, without O’Connor even having to jump a second time.

Next stop, Paris.


Pacino Amiro (ISH) – 2012 gelding by Pacino (BWP) out of Carnone Dancing Queen (ISH) by NC Amiro (AES). Breeder: Simon Scott, Co. Donegal. Owner: Ballywalter Stables. Rider: Bertram Allen (IRL).

James Kann Cruz (ISH) – 2013 gelding by Kannan (KWPN) out of CSF Telly Cruz (ISH) by Cruising (ISH)[TIH]. Breeder: Patrick Connolly. Owner: Gizmo Partners LLC. Rider: Shane Sweetnam (IRL)