Ireland finish second in thrilling League of Nations opener

  • 11 February 2024, 14:03

The Underwriting Exchange Irish Show Jumping team finished in second place in the FEI Longines League of Nations this afternoon in Abu Dhabi.

In a thrilling finish following two exhilarating rounds of action, Michael Blake’s team were pipped at the post by Germany, the Irish finishing on a final score of 12 faults.

The Germans were just one pole down in front, winning on eight faults, with Sweden in third on a total of 20.

Going into the competition ranked as the number one team in the world, Ireland started brilliantly, with clear rounds from Richard Howley on board Equine America Consulet de Prelet Z, Mikey Pender with HHS Calais (ISH) and Mark McAuley on GRS Lady Amaro (ISH).

Denis Lynch’s four faults with Cordial were Ireland’s discard score.

Heading into the second round at the top of the leaderboard, Blake chose Howley, Pender and McAuley as Ireland’s three riders, and Howley consolidated Ireland’s position in front with another super clear round of jumping with Consulet de Prelet Z, before eight faults from Pender and HHS Calais left Ireland in second place behind Germany with just McAuley to jump.

There was a late twist to give Ireland hope, as Germany’s David Will knocked a pole on board My Prins van Dorperheide, meaning the scores were level on eight faults, with McAuley needing a clear round under pressure to force a jump-off.

GRS Lady Amaro jumped another super round, but an unlucky pole down at the fence following the water gave Germany the victory and left Ireland in the runner-up position.

Afterwards, Horse Sport Ireland Show Jumping High Performance Director Blake was pleased with his team’s performance, but was also left to rue what might have been.

“Obviously it’s disappointing to be beaten by such a small margin and so late in the day but the lads put in a serious performance and I’m delighted with them, overall.

“We were in a fantastic position after a brilliant first round and obviously Richard edged us closer by going double clear.

“But mistakes are very costly at this, the very highest level and the new format, with just three combinations jumping in the second round, means you can’t make those mistakes.

“It was just a couple of little errors, one less than the Germans, but congratulations to them and we’ll see them in Ocala in a few weeks time for the second leg.”

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



HHS Calais (ISH) – 2011 gelding by Cavalier Royale (HOLST) out of MHS OBOS Cruise (ISH) by OBOS Quality (OLD). Breeder: Ita Brennan, Co. Kilkenny. Owner: Bravo Hughes Ltd. Rider: Michael Pender (IRL).

GRS Lady Amaro (ISH) – 2013 mare by Amaretto Darco (BWP) out of Legal Lady (TB) by Over The River (TB). Breeder: Denis Hickey, Co. Wexford. Owner: S.N.C McAuley. Rider: Mark McAuley (IRL).