Ireland make excellent start to European Nations Cup season with runner-up finish in Slovakia

  • 29 April 2018, 17:01

Rodrigo Pessoa’s Irish Show Jumping team have scored an impressive runner-up finish in today’s (Sunday) Longines FEI Nations Cup at Samorin in Slovakia – which was the first opportunity to score points in Europe Division 1.

Ireland, sponsored by Devenish and The Underwriting Exchange, were in joint third place at the halfway stage on five faults along with Rodrigo Pessoa’s native Brazil. The highlight for Ireland in that opening round was a foot-perfect clear round from Limerick’s Paul O’Shea with Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu. Co Louth’s Mark McAuley also kept all the poles standing with Utchan De Belheme – finishing with just a time fault, while Cork’s Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z lowered a single fence.

Paul O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu jumped a double clear round in the Nations Cup in Slovakia

Tipperary’s Shane Breen and Ipswich Van De Wolfsakker had been the discard score first time out, but they looked to be heading for a clear on their second attempt before the very last fence fell to leave them with 4 faults.
McAuley and Utchan De Belheme returned with 8 faults, before O’Shea and the 11-year-old Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu completed a brilliant double clear – one of just four in the competition. Sweetnam and Chaqui Z then repeated their 4 faults score from the first round when last to go, to leave Ireland on a two round total of 13 faults and in second place at the finish.

Switzerland took the winners trophy with 9 faults while Belgium filled third place on the podium with 16 faults behind Ireland. Brazil finished fourth, followed by Italy and Sweden in joint fifth, while Germany had to settle for seventh place with Spain in eighth.

Rodrigo Pessoa (Photo: X-BIONIC® SPHERE – Filippo Gabutti)

Irish team manager Rodrigo Pessoa was pleased with his team’s opening Nations Cup in Europe this season:

“It was a very good result to start the year. It is still only the end of April and for a lot of the horses it was their first time this season jumping on grass. We have to salute Paul O’Shea for his double clear round with Machu Picchu. The course wasn’t easy and the faults were spread out all over the course. Overall its a very positive start for us and our riders also had a very good show here in Samorin in the individual classes.”

The result gives Ireland 90 points on the league table to take to their next points-scoring Nations Cup round at La Baule in France on May 20th. This will be followed by outings at Falsterbo (SWE), Hickstead (GBR) and Ireland’s home Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse Show in August for the Aga Khan trophy.

The Irish Show Jumping Team, sponsored by The Underwriting Exchange and Devenish was named “Team of the Year” at the 2017 RTE Sport Awards 

Equiline – Official athlete clothing supplier of Team Ireland Equestrian

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