Ireland team named for first leg of FEI Longines League of Nations

  • 24 January 2024, 12:15

The Underwriting Exchange Irish Show Jumping Team has been named for the first leg of the new FEI Longines League of Nations in Abu Dhabi.

Michael Blake’s world number one-ranked team will face off with the nine best nations on the planet for the prestigious new competition and Ireland’s chef d’equipe has named a strong quartet of combinations for the February 11th heat.

Horse Sport Ireland Show Jumping High Performance Director Blake will send Mikey Pender, Richard Howley, Denis Lynch and Mark McAuley into battle as the team bid to kick off the 2024 season in style.

Having won multiple Nations Cups and landed a European Championship silver medal last season, Blake is hopeful of a strong showing from his team in what is sure to be an incredible show jumping series, culminating in the final in Barcelona later in the year.

Blake said: “To win a Nations Cup has always been up there for me as the highest honour and as the number one ranked nation in the competition Ireland will be looking forward to putting our best foot forward to cement that position throughout the League of Nations.

“I’m very happy with the team we’ve selected for this opening leg in Abu Dhabi – all four riders have proven themselves at the highest level and hopefully we can carry promising recent form into the League of Nations.

“2023 was a very successful season and that’s testament to the hard work of all the riders in the programme, as well as their support teams, and the competitive culture created within the overall group – all the way from our senior riders through to our youth teams.”

Lining up in opposition for the duration of the series will be Brazil, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands, Great Britain, Switzerland, Germany, France and the United States.

“Looking at the other entries, it will be a very competitive first leg,” Blake added.

“I have no doubt that all of the nations lining up will be going all out to win the first leg but we’ll be there for the same reason and am excited to see what our team can produce.

“Ireland won the Nations Cup Final in 2019 and winning Nations Cups is up there with the pinnacle of team achievements so this is a very important competition, beginning on February 11th in Abu Dhabi.”