Irish Show Jumping Team dominate in five-star FEI Vancouver Nations Cup to retain crown
- 5 June 2023, 09:46
The Underwriting Exchange Irish Senior Show Jumping team entered the Longines FEI Show Jumping Nations at the CSIO5* show in Langley, Canada with the goal of topping the podium for a second year running.
They are fast becoming the team to beat wherever in the world they compete and arrived in Vancouver off the back of a first ever victory in the Rome leg of the Nations Cup.
On the other side of the world, Michael Blake’s team of Shane Sweetnam with his Aga Khan-winning mount James Kann Cruz (ISH), Daniel Coyle with Gisborne VDL, David Blake with Claude and anchor man Conor Swail with Nadal Hero & DB didn’t disappoint.
Drawn third of the five competing Nations, Cork’s Sweetnam got Ireland off to the perfect start. He was the only first line rider and one of two riders to jump double clear all evening. This consistency came as no surprise to those following Sweetnam and the 10-year-old Kannan-sired gelding – the pair finished second in the 1.60m Grand Prix at the same venue last week and have recorded six top ten international placings this year alone.
Second into the arena for Ireland was Coyle and Ariel Grange’s Gisborne VDL. An unfortunate two fences down left this round as the discard score. With pressure mounting Blake and Swail had to deliver to keep Ireland in contention and deliver was what they did.
One fence down from Blake, on board the 11-year-old gelding Claude, owned by Pine Hollow Farm, and a clear round from Swail, partnering Nadal Hero & DB, a 10-year-old stallion owned by Mannon Farm, left Ireland on 4 faults to lead alongside the host nation at the halfway stage.
A fence down from Canada’s first rider in round two opened the door for Ireland, and they grasped the advantage in ruthless fashion.
Clicking into gear, three perfect clear rounds from Sweetnam, Coyle and Blake meant Ireland finished on a team total of 4 without Swail even having to jump.
Four faults for Amy Millar, Canada’s final rider, meant they finished on a team score of 8 faults in second place. America completed the podium, finishing on a team score of 28.
Speaking after the win, Chef d’Equipe Blake said: “I’m delighted, we came here to win and we delivered. It’s been a great weekend for Irish show jumping with our team coming second in the EEF Nations Cup in Drammen on Friday and then to win tonight was fantastic.
“The team are really coming into a rich vein of form now and we are doing it on all sides of the world. We have been on the podium in the middle east, second behind the home team in California and now we’re starting to peak, with the win in Rome followed by this here.
“To win so dominantly was what really pleased me and clearly these riders are up there with the very best in the world – it is a great achievement and I’m extremely proud.”
BREEDING: James Kann Cruz (ISH) – 2013 gelding by Kannan (KWPN) out of CSF Telly Cruz (ISH) by Cruising (ISH). Breeder: Patrick Connolly. Owner: Gizmo Partners LLC. Rider: Shane Sweetnam (IRL).
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