Irish Show Jumping team named for Aga Khan – Michael Blake’s quartet drawn sixth to jump

  • 18 August 2022, 12:15

Irish Show Jumping team manager Michael Blake has named his four horses and riders for tomorrow’s (Friday) Longines FEI Nations Cup of Ireland for the Aga Khan trophy at the Dublin Horse Show. The Irish team includes two Irish Sport Horses and a mix of youth and experience, with 19-year-old Max Wachman making his Aga Khan debut alongside the hugely experienced trio of Conor Swail, Shane Sweetnam and Cian O’Connor.

Irish Show Jumping team manager Michael Blake, third from left, with Aga Khan squad members, from left, Max Wachman, Shane Sweetnam, Cian O’Connor, Conor Swail and Jack Ryan, as well as The Underwriting Exchange founder and chairman Stephen O’Connor, right, at the 2022 Dublin Horse Show the RDS in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Ireland have been drawn second last to jump of the seven teams that will compete and line-out as follows:

Down’s Conor Swail with Count Me In – Owned by Sandy Lupton & Mannon Farm
Tipperary’s Max Wachman with Berlux Z – Owned by Coolmore Showjumping
Cork’s Shane Sweetnam with James Kann Cruz (ISH) – Owned by Gizmo Partners LLC
Meath’s Cian O’Connor with Kilkenny (ISH) – Owned by Susan Magnier

RESERVE – Kilkenny’s Jack Ryan with BBS McGregor (ISH) – Owned by Marguerite Ryan

Ireland last won the Aga Khan in 2015 and along with hoping to bridge a seven year gap and lift the famous trophy, Michael Blake and his team are hoping to secure enough league points to make it through to the Longines FEI Nations Cup final which takes place in Barcelona (ESP) at the end of September.

USA will be the first team into the arena followed by Norway, Brazil, Netherlands, France, Ireland and Switzerland. Five teams, (France, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland) will compete for Nations Cup points in Dublin, while USA and Brazil will will not be eligible for points.

Having been denied the opportunity to lead Ireland out on Aga Khan day in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid, Clare native Michael Blake is looking forward to Friday’s challenge and said:

“The Aga Khan is always a very special day on the Irish sporting calendar and is extra special this year following a two-year break due to Covid. I am confident that we have a very strong team. Conor Swail is World No.4 and has been having a superb season. Max Watchman will be making his Aga Khan debut and although he is just 19, has already shown he is very talented and has an exceptional horse in Berlux Z. Shane Sweetnam and The Irish Sport Horse James Kann Cruz are an incredibly exciting combination and jumped a brilliant double clear in the Rotterdam Nations Cup and at Langley in Canada.

“Our anchor rider Cian O’Connor needs no introduction, he is our most capped Nations Cup rider and can always be relied upon to deliver when it matters. Our reserve rider Jack Ryan has had an excellent Nations Cup campaign this year, jumping clear rounds in three Nations Cups. To win an Aga Khan is never easy. There are several really strong teams here this year but we will be fighting to the end to hopefully lift the trophy.”

The Longines FEI Nations Cup of Ireland for the Aga Khan trophy starts at 3pm Irish time on Friday afternoon and is part of RTE”s Dublin Horse Show live coverage which comes on air at 1.20pm. Ruby Walsh will be joined in studio by Gerry Mullins and Nicola FitzGibbon, with commentary by Pauric Lodge.


The Irish Show Jumping team is sponsored by The Underwriting Exchange

Charles Ancona – Official athlete clothing supplier to HSI’s Senior Olympic programmes

Kilkenny (ISH) – 2012 gelding by Cardento (HOLST) out of MHS Pembrook Lady (ISH) by Guidam (SF), bred by Sinead Brennan, Co Kilkenny. Owner Susan Magnier. Rider Cian O’Connor.

James Kann Cruz (ISH)  – 2013 gelding by Kannan out of CSF Telly Cruz by Cruising, bred by Patrick Connolly owned by Gizmo partners LLC. Ridden by Shane Sweetnam.

BBS McGregor (ISH)  – 2012 gelding by Cardento (HOLST) out of Random Chance (ISH) by Mark Twain (TB) bred and owned by Marguerite Ryan ridden by Jack Ryan.