Ireland’s showjumpers have made it through to the final eight of the Longines FEI Nations Cup final and will contest Sunday’s showdown for top honours in Barcelona.

In a tense competition on Friday evening (5 October), Great Britain finished 12th of the 15 teams so will instead contest Saturday’s Challenge Cup alongside Germany, world champions USA, Canada, Brazil, UAE and host nations Spain.

Pathfinder William Funnell cruised round for four faults on Denise Stamp’s Billy McCain, while Harriet Nuttall (A Touch Imperious) ended up as the drop score with 10. The star performance came from Amanda Derbyshire, who jumped clear on Roulette BH, with final rider Holly Smith and her WEG partner Hearts Destiny completing on eight faults, for a team total of 12.

Two countries shared top honours in the opening round of the season finale — Italy and Austria — and they will be joined in the one-round decider by Sweden, Belgium, title-holders the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland and France.

Ireland posted a five penalty total, with a clear round from anchorman Darragh Kenny (Balou Du Reventon), just a time-fault for Anthony Condon and SFS Aristio, and Billy Twomey (Kimba Flamenco) coming home on four. The drop score was Shane Breen’s 12-fault round on Ipswich Van De Wolfsakker.

“We wanted to be competitive and all our horses jumped really well,” said Ireland’s chef d’equipe Rodrigo Pessoa. “We are looking forward to Sunday’s final where everything is to play for with everyone starting on a zero score.”

Austria and Italy headed the table with just one fault apiece.

“For us to be in the final already is perfect — now we just need to focus like we did today and let’s see what we can do,” said the Austrian team manager Marcus Wallishauser.

But Italian team rider Lorenzo De Luca added caution: “There’s still a big day ahead — Sunday is going to be huge!”

Saturday’s Challenge Cup kicks off at 21.00 local time (8pm BST) with the final on Sunday afternoon. The full results can be found here.

You can read the full story from the Longines FEI Nations Cup final, alongside a bumper HOYS report, in next week’s Horse & Hound, out Thursday, 11 October.