Ireland’s riders delighted the crowd by winning the FEI Nations Cup at the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show, the Aga Khan, this afternoon – the first time the home side has won since 2004.
“I’m over the moon, it’s fantastic,” said chef d’equipe Robert Splaine. “We wanted it so much for the crowd. We wanted to jump clears and give them something to cheer about.”
Clem McMahon led the effort, achieving two clears with his mother Maureen’s eight-year-old Pacino, while Richie Maloney had just one time-fault in the first round, but was otherwise fault-free on Ahorn Van De Zuuthoeve.
Darragh Kerins also provided a first-round clear and the team led at the halfway stage on a score of one, discarding four faults from anchorman Cian O’Connor, riding his London Olympic individual bronze medallist Blue Loyd 12.
In the second round, Cian was not required to jump again because Darragh’s four added to Clem and Richie’s zeros left Ireland out in front.
Many of these riders rode in 12.2hh classes at Dublin and admitted they were fulfilling a childhood dream by winning the Aga Khan.
France finished second, their assault spearheaded by a double clear from Roger Yves Bost (Nippon D’Elle), while Britain moved up from fourth after round one to take third.
Olympic reserve Tina Fletcher jumped two clears on Hello Sailor, while John Whitaker (Argento) and Nick Skelton (Carlo 273) both provided one. And Robert Smith gave a counting score in both rounds with a single fence down in each on Voila IV, plus a time-fault in the first.
Germany finished last in Dublin, but still won the 2012 FEI Nations Cup League. Ireland finished third and Britain fourth, both well out of the normal “relegation zone” of the bottom two teams, although the Nations Cup format is changing next year so this may not apply.
Full report on Dublin in H&H out next Thursday, 23 August.