Ireland off to excellent start with runner-up finish in Nations Cup season-opener in Abu Dhabi – Team named for Sunday’s second round in Florida
- 17 February 2018, 14:27
A hugely impressive performance from the Irish Show Jumping team saw them take runner-up spot in the very first five-star Longines FEI Nations Cup of the 2018 season today (Saturday) at Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
The competition provided a thrilling start to the season under 30 degree heat in the UAE capital, with New Zealand winning their first ever Longines FEI Nations Cup following a tense jump-off against the Irish.
Led by Chef d’Equipe Taylor Vard, Ireland were in a four-way tie for the lead at the halfway stage on just four faults along with Italy, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia. Tipperary’s Shane Breen with the stallion Laith and Derry’s David Simpson with the 9-year-old stallion Keoki both jumped fantastic clear rounds first time out. Mayo’s Cameron Hanley had just one fence down with Aiyetoro, while Limerick’s Paul Kennedy and Cartown Danger Mouse (ISH) were the discard score in the first round with 8 faults.
Hanley and Aiyetoro repeated their four fault score when first out for Ireland in the second round. Simpson and Keoki then gave Ireland a huge boost with their second clear round, before Kennedy and Cartown Danger Mouse (ISH) improved on their first round score to come home with just four faults in the second round. Last to go, Breen and Laith were the second round discard score, with Ireland finishing on a two round total of 12 faults – the same score as New Zealand.
Ireland and New Zealand went head to head in a jump-off to decide the winners. Samantha McIntosh went first with Check In and posted a clear round. The Kiwis were crowned winners after Breen and Laith faulted at the third fence in the jump-off.
Italy took third place on the podium ahead of Switzerland who shared fourth place with Saudi Arabia and the home team from UAE. Saudi Arabia and UAE took the two qualifying places on offer for Arab Nations for the 2018 Longines FEI Jumping final in Barcelona.
Derry’s David Simpson meanwhile took a half share in a special €50,000 bonus for those who jumped a double clear round. The only other pairing to jump double clear were Samantha McIntosh (NZL) with Check In.
Speaking afterwards, Irish Chef d’Equipe in Abu Dhabi Taylor Vard said:
“Obviously when you get into a jump-off and don’t win you are going to be disappointed but it’s a good start to the season and plenty of positives. All our guys rode really well and a special mention to David Simpson and Keoki for a double clear round. They jumped well at their last show and the horse is obviously coming into form. We had opportunities to win in the second round but it just didn’t happen. Shane and Laith were by far our most experienced combination and that’s why they went in the jump-off but it didn’t work out. I want to congratulate the New Zealand team on their win which was well deserved.”
Irish Team Named for Sunday’s Nations Cup in Florida
Meanwhile the Irish team has been named for the second Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of the season which takes place tomorrow, Sunday at Ocala in Florida.
Irish Development team manager Michael Blake will be hoping to repeat the victory his team achieved at the same venue in 2017.
Ireland have been drawn first to jump in the competition which gets underway in Ocala at 6pm Irish time and will line out as follows:
Derry’s Daniel Coyle with Cita – owned by Ariel Grange
Limerick’s Paul O’Shea with Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu – owned by Skara Glen’s Stables
Offaly’s Darragh Kenny with Go Easy De Muze – owned by Whiterock Farm
Meath’s Cian O’Connor with Clenur – owned by Armin Himmelreich
O’Connor and Clenur scored a sixth place finish in Friday’s $265,000 Grand Prix in Ocala which was won by Australian rider Rowan Willis with Blue Movie.
Ireland’s first points-scoring Nations Cup in Europe Division 1 will come at Samorin (SVK) in April, followed by La Baule (FRA), Falsterbo (SWE), Hickstead (GBR) and their home Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse Show in August.
Irish scores- Abu Dhabi Nations Cup
Cameron Hanley with Aiyetoro – owned by Cameron Hanley – 4/4
David Simpson with Keoki – owned by Julia Cruden – 0/0
Paul Kennedy with Cartown Danger Mouse (ISH) – owned by Jane Kennedy – 8/4
Shane Breen with Laith – owned by Team Z7 – 0/8
Team total 12 faults
The Irish Show Jumping team is sponsored by The Underwriting Exchange and Devenish.
Equiline – Official athlete clothing supplier of Team Ireland Equestrian.