World number one Ireland ready for Abu Dhabi League of Nations test

  • 9 February 2024, 15:09

Irish riders Denis Lynch, Mikey Pender, Richard Howley and Mark McAuley with team manager Michael Blake in Abu Dhabi ahead of the opening leg of the FEI Longines League of Nations opening leg.

Blake’s team embracing status ahead of Longines League of Nations opener

The Underwriting Exchange Irish Senior Show Jumping team go into battle on Sunday in Abu Dhabi for the first qualifying leg of the FEI Jumping Longines League of Nations.

Horse Sport Ireland High Performance Show Jumping Director Michael Blake has selected a strong quartet of Denis Lynch with Cordial, Mikey Pender with HHS Calais (ISH), Richard Howley with Equine America Consulet de Prelet Z and Mark McAuley rider with GRS Lady Amaro (ISH) for the opening heat of the competition.

Ranked number one in the world ahead of the prestigious new competition, hopes are high within the Irish camp of getting the League of Nations off to an excellent start.

Blake’s world number one-ranked team will face off with the nine best nations on the planet for the prestigious new competition and hopes are high within the Irish camp of getting the League of Nations off to an excellent start.

Chef d’Equipe Blake has been instrumental in the development of Irish teams and has led the team to multiple Nations Cup wins, including a 2022 Aga Khan Trophy success and a European Championship silver medal in 2023 – and he is ready to use his vast experience in the League of Nations.

“To win a Nations Cup has always been up there for me as the highest honour and as the number one ranked nation in the competition, we will be putting our best foot forward to cement that position throughout the Longines League of Nations.

“So many of our riders are ranked very highly in world rankings, and being the world number-one team is testament to the programme we have built, through Ponies, Juniors, and Young Riders, and you can see the depth of talent Ireland has coming through.

“This competition gives us an opportunity to showcase our athletes, human and equine, and I’m sure they will do their nation proud as we aim towards the Final in Barcelona.

“There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing a national team working together. When you look at the emotions when each nation is competing, it is easy to see the pride, excitement, and elation when it goes well. I see that with my riders every time we come together to represent Ireland.

“Nothing is more important to our riders than jumping in a green jacket. Even though jumping could be seen as an individual sport in most cases, for riders the dynamic changes completely when it becomes a Nations Cup.”

Being ranked at the top of the tree can sometimes weigh heavy, but the Clare native embraces the pressure that comes with his team sitting in pole position of the world rankings – it is an achievement Blake is proud of.

“Everyone wants to be ranked as highly as possible and there is no better ranking than number one – it is where we always strive to be, and it is something we are immensely proud of. With that comes obvious pressure, but we welcome that pressure, and we will try to instill the importance of what the series means in every rider who represents this team.

“Once this series starts, we are all equal and we will concentrate on our own performances throughout the series, do our best and hopefully have a successful campaign.”

The Irish Show Jumping team is sponsored by The Underwriting Exchange

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

Bucas – official supplier to the Irish High Performance programme


HHS Calais (ISH) – 2011 gelding by Cavalier Royale (HOLST) out of MHS OBOS Cruise (ISH) by OBOS Quality (OLD). Breeder: Ita Brennan, Co. Kilkenny. Owner: Bravo Hughes Ltd. Rider: Michael Pender (IRL).

GRS Lady Amaro (ISH) – 2013 mare by Amaretto Darco (BWP) out of Legal Lady (TB) by Over The River (TB). Breeder: Denis Hickey, Co. Wexford. Owner: S.N.C McAuley. Rider: Mark McAuley (IRL).