Ireland third in Longines EEF Nations Cup

  • 17 May 2024, 20:15

Jessica Burke and the Liam Nicholas owned-and-bred Irish Sport Horse Express Trend recorded a brilliant double clear (Sportfot)

Lynch and Swail bag major individual ribbons

The Underwriting Exchange Irish Show Jumping team have posted a third-place finish in the opening regional qualifier of the Longines EEF Nations Cup in Kronenberg, The Netherlands.

While a positive result from a 13 team competition, which was won in a jump-off against Canada by the hosts, there was a tinge of disappointment around it from an Irish perspective, given that Michael Blake’s unit had posted four clears in the first round.

This is despite the fact that Ireland were the highest finishing team in their region, Region West, and thus earned the maximum 100 points, meaning that they are very close to securing a semi-final berth.

However, only Jessica Burke, on the Liam Nicholas owned and bred Irish Sport Horse Express Trend, was able to record a double clear after that magnificent opening phase. The son of Future Trend answered every call from his Galway pilot, cantering around without a blemish.

In contrast, Dutch trio Michael Greeve, Henk Frederiks and Mathijs van Asten, and Kara Chad, Elizabeth Bates and Lea Rucker from Canada, all managed to navigate their two rounds without a mistake.

And Greeve sent the locals home delirious when he and Denver recorded a third straight clear in a quick time of 32.05 in the decisive jump-off. That put pressure on Canadian Kyle Timm on Casino Calvin and it told with one error ensuring triumph for The Netherlands.

Blake had expressed confidence that the unit he had selected possessed the experience to deliver and they certainly justified the optimism of Horse Sport Ireland’s Show Jumping High Performance Director with a flawless effort initially.

The Irish were fourth of the thirteen teams into the arena, which didn’t give pathfinder Richard Howley much by the way of information when he went into the ring on the nine-year-old Zodiak du Buisson Z.

The Sligo native, buoyed by a three-star 1.45m class victory earlier in the day on Petitfour Vd Wareslage (owned jointly by HK Horses, Sarah Borthwick and globally renowned jockey Oisín Murphy), had no concerns however, and was in perfect synchronicity with the grey, who is owned by HK Horses.

Burke and Express Trend followed up and Mayo man, Michael G Duffy and Clitschko 17 (owned by Carl Hanley Sporthorses, Niall Talbot and Duffy himself) repeated the trick with a very professional round.

Daniel Coyle, the highest ranked athlete taking part at no 11 in the Longines list, brought the curtain down on those first round proceedings with another clear on Incredible, the 11-year-old owned by the Derry man in partnership with Ariel Grange.

Howley, Duffy and Coyle all recorded solid rounds at the second time of asking but each ended on four faults, to leave Ireland on a final tally of eight. They did just enough to hold off a rallying Spain, as well as USA, France and Belgium for third on a better aggregate time.

“Third is never a bad result but I thought we would have done a little better in the second round,” said Blake afterwards. “We had a very strong team and things didn’t just stack up for us. Richard nudged the first fence and we were under pressure a bit from there. Jessica did a fantastic job I thought.

“Michael’s horse is a quality horse but is just back from injury. He hasn’t been in the ring for over a year so that might have been a factor.

“In the end, I made Daniel aware that he needed to be quick in under 77 seconds and though he had one down, he made sure he got the time and we were able to edge third as a result.

“I must congratulate The Netherlands and Canada who did a great job. We came up a little bit short but we still got a podium finish and it was important to get that and to finish top of the teams in our region. That puts us in a very strong position with regards to qualifying for the semi-finals.

“It’s not been a bad year so far. We’ve two big wins, a second and a third and while most countries would take that, we’ll keep striving to get better.”

The second qualifying event for Region West takes place in Roeser in Luxembourg on June 7, with the semi-final in Deauville a fortnight later and the final in Warsaw on September 6.

Elsewhere, Denis Lynch continued his dream run of form with another top five-star result, finishing runner-up on the brilliant Cordial in the second Longines Global Champions League competition in Madrid.

The Tipperary man registered a five-star success in Hamburg last week on Cornets Iberio and scored on the double at the Longines Global Champions League event in Mexico City a month ago.

He bagged the first of those on Cordial and teamed up with the 15-year-old for another top tier performance in the rigorous €105,000 1.60m speed class. The pair excelled in going clear in a time of 75.93 seconds and only the German, Max Kühner on EIC Up Too Jacco Blue were able to trump that.

Meanwhile, Conor Swail marked his return to North Salem in America after a few years’ absence with a four-star triumph.

Riding the 13-year-old gelding Gamble, the Co Down pilot led an Irish charge on the $38,700 1.45m class, with Offaly’s Darragh Kenny following on from his success in a 1.40m class the day before with another good result in third on Serendepety, while Daniel Coyle’s brother, Jordan garnered fourth-place prize money on King Kannan GP.

It was an amazing effort by Swail and the son of Vingino owned by Asta Torokvei, as they were ninth of seventy-eight pairings into the arena for the two-phase contest.

After going clear in the first phase, they showed the cleanest pair of heels to register a time of 28.37 seconds that nobody could match. Nayel Nassar (EGY) got desperately close on Linguine De La Pomme but when he hit the line, the clock stopped on 28.45 and the ultimate honour was Swail’s.



Express Trend (ISH) – 2010 gelding by Future Trend (OLD) out of Condios Express (ISH) by Condios (HOLST). Breeder and owner: Liam Nicholas. Rider: Jessica Burke (IRL).


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