Rodrigo Pessoa names Irish team ahead of Friday’s Italian Nations Cup in Rome while Michael Blake also names team for Lisbon

  • 25 May 2017, 17:28

Rodrigo Pessoa has named the Irish Show Jumping team, sponsored by Devenish and The Underwriting Exchange, for tomorrow’s (Friday) all-important FEI Super League Nations Cup fixture at The Piazza di Siena in Rome.

This will be Ireland’s second of six points-scoring rounds of the 2017 Division 1 Nations Cup series, coming on the back of a third place finish for Pessoa’s team in their first points-scoring outing at La Baule in France.

Ireland have been drawn fifth to jump of the eight teams taking part in the five-star event and will line out as follows:

Cork’s Shane Sweetnam (36), riding the 11-year-old stallion Chaqui Z – owned by Spy Coast Farm
Limerick’s Paul Kennedy (23) with the 11-year-old mare Cartown Danger Mouse (ISH) – owned by Jane Kennedy
Louth’s Mark McAuley (30) with the 9-year-old gelding Utchan De Belheme – owned by Jocelyn Berthelot
Tipperary’s Shane Breen (42), riding the 12-year-old stallion Golden Hawk – owned by Prince Sultan & Breen Equestrian


Speaking after naming his team, Rodrigo Pessoa (pictured), who himself won the Rome Grand Prix in 2009 with Let’s Fly, said:

“We hope to continue the momentum from our good results at La Baule and Drammen. I would like to give a special mention to the Irish team who won the Nations Cup recently in Drammen against some strong teams, including Belgium who were chasing points in their bid to get promoted.
“Unfortunately we received the news this week that we have lost Michael Duffy’s horse Belcanto Z from our squad as he has been sold. We are hopeful that Michael will find another horse to compete at this level, as he has become a valuable asset to the Irish team.”

Tipperary’s Thomas Ryan joins the Irish squad in Rome as reserve rider with Quite Zero and Rodrigo Pessoa made a point of thanking him and all the Irish riders who have been part of Irish teams so far this season.

“Because of the difficulty of the jumping calendar and clashes with different shows, it is sometimes hard to get commitment because riders have professional obligations and personal choices. I want to thank the riders and the owners who have made themselves available so far this year for Nations Cup events and our bid to qualify for the final in Barcelona. The Nations Cup series is a very special event and an opportunity to represent your country as part a team. I want to particularly thank Thomas Ryan for his flexibility – coming in at very short notice to join the squad for the first time this year,” he said.

Ireland have never won the Italian Nations Cup since it first started in 1926, and they will face a tough challenge on Friday afternoon when six of the eight teams will be chasing crucial league points. Along with Ireland, league leaders France, Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and the hosts Italy will be hoping to add to their points tally, while Canada and Switzerland will also jump but will not be eligible for points.

Following the Rome Nations Cup, Ireland’s remaining Super League fixtures will be at Rotterdam (June 23rd), Falsterbo (July 14th), Hickstead (July 28th), and Ireland’s home Nations Cup at the RDS in Dublin on August 11th, where teams will compete for the Aga Khan trophy.

The Rome Nations Cup gets underway at 1.30pm Irish time and is available to watch live on FEITV

Blake names team for Lisbon Nations Cup

Meanwhile Irish Development Team Manager Michael Blake (pictured) has named his team for the three-star Lisbon Nations Cup in Portugal, which also takes place on Friday at the later time of 6pm, with the second round jumped under floodlights at 9.30pm.

Blake will be hoping to build on an excellent win last time out in the Division 2 fixture at Drammen in Norway. Belgium, Britain, Luxembourg and the home team from Portugal will be chasing points in Lisbon, while like Ireland, France Italy. Korea and Spain will field teams but will not be eligible for points.

The Irish team for the Lisbon Nations Cup will jump in the following order:

Alexander Butler with Hallowberry Cruz (ISH)(TIH) – owned by Caroline Byrne
Michael Pender with Can Ya Makan – owned by Team Z7
David Simpson with Keoki – owned by Julia Cruden
Dermott Lennon with Fleur IV – owned by Rebecca McGoldrick

Michael Blake said:

“There looks to be strong British, Belgian and French teams here in Lisbon but I am very happy with our team and I am expecting a big performance. Many of the horses’ owners are here at the show and I really want to thank them for their support and I would also like to wish Rodrigo’s team the very best of luck in Rome.”

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