Ireland secure superb Nations Cup victory after dramatic night in Drammen
- 12 May 2017, 22:01
The Irish Show Jumping team have scored a magnificent Nations Cup victory, after a titanic battle at Drammen in Norway tonight (Friday), where a gripping contest was decided by a single fault.
Waterford-born Army rider Capt. Geoff Curran sealed victory for the Irish, with a dramatic last-gasp round aboard The Minister For Defence-owned Irish Sport Horse Ringwood Glen, to deny runners-up Belgium who had to settle for second.
Ireland held the lead at the halfway stage on 10 faults. Meath’s Alexander Butler recovered from a tricky round first time out with Hallowberry Cruz (ISH)(TIH) to finish with 9 faults second time out. Louth’s Mark McAuley then put Ireland in the driving seat with a superb second round with Utchan De Belheme, where they finished with just a time fault. Mayo’s Cameron Hanley and the eight-year-old Quirex had finished with just a time fault in the first round and came home with five faults in the decider.
However Belgium were in inspired form in the second round – chasing points in their bid to regain Division 1 status. Clear rounds from Olivier Philippaerts (H&M Legend Of Love) and Pieter Devos (Dream Of India Greenfield) kept the pressure firmly on Ireland.
Waterford’s Capt. Geoff Curran and Ringwood Glen (ISH) were last to go for Ireland, knowing four faults would give Ireland victory but even a time fault extra would open the door to the Belgians. The Army Equitation rider and Ringwood Glen picked up four faults with a toe in the water but Curran kept his cool to match his four fault score from the first round and seal victory for the Irish.
Capt. Geoff Curran said:
“I am absolutely delighted. Ringwood Glen is a real favourite in the Army Equitation School and he deserves this win. I am really happy to be part of this great team.”
When asked if he knew he was in the water and that he couldn’t afford even a time fault, Capt Curran said,
“I had a feeling that I might have been in the water and I knew I was tight enough on the time allowed but I kept the same plan of doing eight strides down to the last fence. It worked in the first round and thankfully again in the second but I didn’t plan on being quite that tight to the time allowed [0.21 of a second].”
Ireland finished on a 20 fault total, with Belgium second on 21 while France finished third on 24.
The result sealed a hat-trick of Nations Cup wins for Ireland’s development team manager Michael Blake. The Clare native had guided Ireland to a double of wins at the start of this year in Ocala and Wellington in Florida and this latest win makes it three wins in-a-row for Blake.
“I knew coming here to Drammen that this was going to be tough but I also knew we had a good team. I said to Geoff going in, you can have a time fault or a fence but you can’t have both. He was under a lot of pressure going in last. I don’t think he knew for sure he was in the water and he got home just inside the time allowed – he did a brilliant job.
“Belgium had their strongest team and it shows the depth in talent we have in Ireland to finish on the podium in La Baule and win here in Drammen on the same day. I’m over the moon and the lads all did a fantastic job. The credit has to go to them and to their horses owners for this win,” he said.
As Ireland are a Division 1 nation they were not competing for points in Drammen which was a Division 2 fixture. The Irish Division 1 team, led by Rodrigo Pessoa, had earlier scored a podium finish in the five-star La Baule Nations Cup, finishing third behind winners France and runners-up Sweden.
Drammen Nations Cup – Irish scores
Alexander Butler/Hallowberry Cruz (ISH)(TIH) (Ret) / (9)
Mark McAuley/Utchan De Belheme 5/1
Cameron Hanley/Quirex 1/5
Capt. Geoff Curran/Ringwood Glen (ISH) 4/4
Team total 20 faults
Full results available HERE
Ringwood Glen (ISH) – 2004 gelding by VDL Arkansas (KWPN) out of Penny Royale (ISH), by Cavalier Royale (HOLST). Breeder: Ray O’Reilly, Co. Cavan. Owner: Minister For Defence. Rider: Capt. Geoff Curran
Hallowberry Cruz (ISH)(TIH) – 2006 stallion by Cruising (ISH) out of Calcutta Clover (ISH), by Clover Hill (ID). Breeder/Owner: Caroline Byrne, Co. Wicklow. Rider: Alexander Butler (IRL)