The Irish Show Jumping team of Mark McAuley, Peter Moloney, Darragh Kenny and Cian O’Connor, narrowly missed out on ending a 93-year wait to win the Italian Nations Cup for the very first time this afternoon (Friday), after a excellent performance saw them finish as runners-up.
Ireland, managed by Michael Blake, were in a share of the lead with Sweden at the halfway stage after clear rounds from Waterford’s Peter Moloney with the Team Harmony-owned Chianti’s Champion and Offaly’s Darragh Kenny with Important De Muze – owned by Kerry Anne LLC. Ireland finished the first round with only the four faults picked up by Louth’s Mark McAuley with the Eva Lundin-owned Jasco VD Bisschop.
Mark McAuley came home with the same four fault score in the second round and at that stage Sweden held a slight advantage when their first rider in the second round jumped clear. Peter Moloney looked set to complete a double clear round as he was clear coming to the last, but the front bar of the final oxer fell to the floor as they crossed the line also with one time fault. Second last to go for Ireland, Darragh Kenny picked up four faults at the first part of the combination, meaning Sweden would have a one fence advantage as it all came down to the final line riders.
Sweden’s European individual gold medalist Peder Fredricson showed his experience, and guided H&M Christian K to a perfect clear round to leave Sweden on an unbeatable two round total of 8 faults. Cian O’Connor cemented Ireland’s position as runners-up with a perfect clear when last to go with PSG Final, to leave Ireland on a final score of 12 faults. Belgium and The Netherlands shared third place on 18 faults, while the home team from Italy finished fifth on 23 faults. Germany finished sixth, with Israel seventh, France eighth, while Switzerland, winners last time out in La Baule, had to settle for ninth.
Irish Development team manager Michael Blake was delighted with his team’s performance and said:
“I am very happy with how we performed. We had an entirely new set of combinations on this team so from a development point of view we certainly learned a lot today over what was a very tough course. You have to experiment at times and we now are in a position where some of our riders have two horses that have performed very well recently at top Nations Cup level. I would give a special mention today to Peter Moloney who really was excellent on his five-star Nations Cup debut.”
Irish riders had also been in great form in the earlier 1m50 Land Rover speed competition, where Mark McAuley scored an impressive win with Valentino Tuiliere. Despite been drawn as the very first combination to enter the arena, they set what proved an unbeatable target of clear in 56.00 seconds, to take the winners prize of over €6,000.
Rome will host the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday with a massive €400,000 up for grabs.
Ireland are in three-star Nations Cup action tomorrow, Saturday at Uggerhaine in Denmark where Taylor Vard will be Ireland’s Chef d’Equipe.
The Irish team in full is:
Kilkenny’s Susan Fitzpatrick with Fellow Castlefield – owned by Sharon Fitzpatrick
Laois’s Aidan Killeen with Fair Play – owned by H.P.J. Verdellen
Kilkenny’s Ger O’Neill with Castlefield Vegas (ISH) – owned by Martin Egan
Tyrone’s Jenny Rankin with Bennys Legacy – owned by Deirdre Bourns