Ireland win team silver at FEI European Championship
- 1 September 2023, 15:47
The Irish Senior Show Jumping team moved up the leader board in Milano to finish second
The Underwriting Exchange Irish Show Jumping team delivered an excellent performance to claim the silver medal in the team final of the FEI Jumping European Championship in Milano, Italy, this afternoon, Friday 1st of September.
Michael Blake’s quartet of Michael Duffy, Trevor Breen, Shane Sweetnam and Eoin McMahon began the day in fourth place heading into the team final with less than a time fault separating the top four nations.
Germany held the lead following the first two days of jumping on a score of 9.31, Sweden were hot on their heels on 9.51 and Switzerland on 9.92. Ireland sat just outside of the top three on 10.00 with over a fence in hand ahead of Austria in fifth place.
Speaking after the second day of competition Horse Sport Ireland Show Jumping High Performance Director Blake said: “We have four excellent horses and neither the horses or their riders will be fazed by things getting tougher tomorrow – they’ll thrive on it so it’s very much all to play for and let’s hope we can bring home a medal.”
He certainly was not wrong. Irish riders showed steely determination and class to move up the leader board to secure the runner-up spot.
Reflecting on the finishing result, Blake added: “It’s a brilliant result, we’ve been so consistent all season – but I’m getting a little sick of finishing second.
“We’re the best programme in the world – I can bring a different five combinations to Nations Cups and championships and these riders and horses keep delivering.
“I thought at the halfway stage in the final round today that we’d go on to win it but Sweden were pretty perfect and deserve their win.
“I’m so proud of my team, though. Michael Duffy – what a rider, he and his mare have just been sensational for us all year, as has Shane and James Kann Cruz.
“Trevor and Eoin barely put a foot wrong all week too and all four have contributed massively to what is a fantastic result here today, I couldn’t be prouder.”
Following a successful Aga Khan Trophy debut in the Irish leg of the Longines FEI Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse Show last month, Galway’s Michael Duffy was first into the arena for Ireland. Riding the 14-year-old grey mare Cinca 3, owned by Hibernia Sport Horses Ltd., Duffy had already jumped two clear rounds on Wednesday and Thursday.
His excellent form continued – delivering yet another clear round to get Ireland off to the perfect start.
Overnight leaders Germany did not have the same luck as their first line rider Marcus Ehning withdrew from competition. The final fence fell for Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann, putting the pressure on the remaining team riders for both Germany and Sweden.
A clear round from Steve Guerdat got Switzerland off to a strong start.
Trevor Breen was next in for Ireland with Heather Black’s Highland President. The Tipperary native and the 11-year-old gelding were unlucky to roll the final part of the combination. However, the result was enough to help move Ireland up a notch on the leader board.
At the half way stage Ireland were in bronze medal position as Germany dropped to fourth following a fence down for Philipp Weishaupt.
Sweden moved to the top of the leader board following an excellent clear from Wilma Hellström. Switzerland held second but two fences down from Bryan Balsiger meant the pressure was on for the remaining two Swiss riders.
Cork’s Shane Sweetnam and the Irish Sport Horse James Kann Cruz, owned by Gizmo Partners LLC, were unlucky to add four faults to their total following an excellent clear round yesterday. Ranked 13th in the world, James Kann Cruz is by Kannan (KWPN) out of the Cruising (ISH)[TIH]-sired mare CSF Telly Cruz (ISH). He was bred by Patrick Connolly.
Sweden extended their lead following another text-book performance from Jens Fredricson. The fence down for Sweetnam was not costly as Ireland moved into silver medal position on a score of 14 with the final riders for each team left to jump. Switzerland’s third rider, Edouard Schmitz, had three fences down, forcing them to count Balsiger’s eight faults and putting the Swiss on a team score of 17.92.
Making his second appearance on an Irish Senior Show Jumping team at championship level Tipperary’s Eoin McMahon and the 11-year-old grey mare Mila, owned by Ludger Beerbaum Stables GmbH, needed to deliver to secure Ireland a team medal.
One fence down for McMahon put Blake’s men on a team total of 18 and in third. However, Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs needed to jump clear to hold onto the silver medal. It wasn’t to be for Switzerland – an uncharacteristic eight faults dropped them to sixth place and saw Ireland move back up to second.
Victory went to Sweden who completed on a team score of 9.51, with three of their four riders jumping clear. Austria finished third on 22.77. Germany were fourth and Spain finished in fifth.
The individual final will take place on Sunday, 3rd of September. Ireland’s Michael Duffy currently is in third place heading into the final.
The Irish Show Jumping team is sponsored by The Underwriting Exchange
The Irish High Performance Show Jumping Programme is exclusively funded by Sport Ireland
Bucas – Official supplier to Ireland’s High Performance programmes
Charles Ancona – Official athlete clothing supplier to HSI’s Senior Olympic programmes