Paris set for dramatic showdown as Irish quest for elusive World Cup Final win starts on Thursday
- 9 April 2018, 13:46
As Denis Lynch and Mark McAuley bid to make history this week in Paris and become the first ever Irish World Cup Final winners, Brian Hennessy looks back on 40 years of magical memories including the Volvo World Cup in Millstreet, podium finishes in the final for Eddie Macken, Trevor Coyle, Jessica Kurten and Bertram Allen, along with a hat-trick of wins for Rodrigo Pessoa
Ireland has a long and distinguished history of success around the globe in Show Jumping at the very highest level, however victory in the FEI World Cup Final has so far eluded riders in the green of Ireland since it’s first running way back in 1978.
The €1.3 million 2018 Longines FEI World Cup Final takes place in Paris this week, with Irish hopes resting with Tipperary’s Denis Lynch riding the stallion All Star and by Co Louth’s Mark McAuley who takes part in his first ever World Cup final with the 14-year-old gelding Miebello.
The mention of World Cup Jumping to many Irish people evokes fond memories of the famous Green Glens Arena in Millstreet, which hosted some of the world’s top riders in World Cup qualifiers from 1992 to 2000. The first qualifier in 1992 saw a win for the home nation as Jessica Kurten (Chesney) lifted the trophy with the great Diamond Exchange. The Duggan family-owned Green Glens Arena attracted many of the world’s top combinations to Co Cork during a memorable period for the sport in Ireland, with wins going to famous names such as David Broome (Lanigan), Ulrich Kirchoff (Jus de Pommes), Nick Skelton (Dollar Girl), Piet Raijmakers (Jewel’s Emerald), and of course Trevor Coyle and Cruising who scored victories in 1997 & 1998.
Millstreet’s World Cup qualifier in 2000 saw Britain’s Andrew Davies came out on top with Captain Wellington ahead of Kildare’s Edward Doyle and Windgates King Koal in second, while Waterford’s Mark O’Sullivan was among a group of riders who shared third place.
An Irish rider may not have won the famous World Cup Final trophy thus far, but they have come close on several occasions, including in 1979 in the Swedish city of Gothenburg. Longford’s Eddie Macken, who to this day remains one of the most recognised figures in Irish and World Show Jumping, finished in equal third place on the podium riding Carrolls of Dundalk behind Austrian winner Hugo Simon.
An Irish Sport Horse came close to winning the final in 1991 when Special Envoy, ridden by Nelson Pessoa finished second. That year saw John Whitaker complete his second win in succession with the wonderful Milton.
If the Irish duo travelling to Paris this week need inspiration or advice on how to win, they need look no further than Ireland’s current team manager Rodrigo Pessoa who is the only rider in history to win the World Cup Final three years in-a-row. His first of three incredible wins, all with the famous stallion Baloubet du Rouet, came in Helsinki, Finland in 1998. Pessoa repeated the feat in 1999 in Gothenburg where he broke Irish hearts by forcing Trevor Coyle and Mary McCann’s legendary Irish stallion Cruising into second place.
Pessoa completed his hat-trick of wins at Las Vegas in 2000 where Peter Charles and Corrada finished sixth for Ireland during the period when Charles had changed nationalities away from his native Great Britain.
While Trevor Coyle and Cruising finished just 1.5 penalties off top spot when finishing second in 1999, an Irish rider came even closer to winning in 2006 at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Riding the brilliant mare Castle Forbes Libertina, Jessica Kürten finished the competition just 1 penalty behind German winner Marcus Ehning with Sandro Boy. Kürten and Libertina came close again two years later in Gothenburg when they finished fourth behind another German, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, who completed the first of two World Cup Final wins with the great Shutterfly.
Ireland’s former World Champion Dermott Lennon had his best ever result at a World Cup Final when he finished fifth with Hallmark Elite at Geneva in 2010. The competition saw Germany’s Marcus Ehning win for the third time in his career.
While an Irish rider may not have won the World Cup Final.. yet… The Irish Sport Horse Flexible, bred by Kildare’s Edward and Catherine Doyle, produced a stunning performance to win the 2012 final at sHertogenbosch (NED) with American rider Rich Fellers.
Five years would pass before an Irish rider would mount another serious challenge for the trophy. Wexford’s Bertram Allen, who was still a teenager at the 2015 Finals in Las Vegas, produced a brilliant performance to take third place on the podium with his grey mare Molly Malone behind Swiss winner Steve Guerdat.
While Mark McAuley is this week competing at his very first World Cup final, Denis Lynch on the other hand has many years of experience to call on, not least from 2016 when he finished fifth with All Star.
So can Denis Lynch or Mark McAuley this week become the very first Irish winner of a World Cup Jumping Final? To do so they most overcome a truly international field of 40 riders from 20 different countries.
One thing is certain, Show Jumping fans are in for a treat of fascinating jumping when the action gets underway this week in Paris. The first test will come in the form of a speed competition on Thursday followed by the second round a day later. The 2018 Longines FEI World Cup Champion will be crowned following the final round this Sunday in the City of Lights – Its going to be a thriller!