Team Ireland have made an assertive start to the European Showjumping Championships at the San Siro racecourse in Milan, Italy (30 August-3 September), completing day one in fourth position behind early leaders Sweden.
Ireland’s pathfinder Michael Duffy with Cinca 3 described Uliano Vezzani’s track, over footing that some riders weren’t happy with, as “jumping tough”. But this super partnership set the bar with a clear in 76.34sec.
“It’s a funny old course. The ground is very mediocre,” said Michael. “So it’s catching a good few faults and it probably rides bigger than it is. But it’s a championship, so that’s to be expected.
“I was maybe half a second slower than I wanted to be, but it’s jumping tough. I thought I’d be further down the leaderboard than I am when I jumped, so I’m happy enough,” said Michael, who finished the day in 19th place individually.
“My mare always gets better for jumping more. I was first in, so I was going to try to be a bit quicker than most but not do anything scary. We only bought her in January, but she’s 14 and she’s been to the Olympics, so she’s no stranger to these courses and these championships.”
European Showjumping Championships: “Hopefully we can contribute to a team medal this week”
Trevor Breen and his home-bred Highland President followed with a lovely clear, but in a slower time, which would end up as the team’s drop score, before a quick four-fault round converted into a competitive 77.72sec and a 25th place individually for Shane Sweetnam riding the exciting James Kann Cruz.
“There’s still a long way to go and my horse was in very good shape, so fingers crossed for tomorrow,” said US-based Shane of the Irish-bred son of Kannan x Cruising. “He’s a great horse – he’s still learning, obviously, and this is his first championship. So hopefully we learn a lot about each other. But he always comes out jumping, trying his best. He loves his job.
“Hopefully, we can contribute to the team and maybe get a team medal this week and then see where we’re at. He’s very talented. He’s got a big presence about him, he’s big and grey and a lively fellow. So he really does stand out. When he’s working with you, he’s a nice ride, but he’s all energy!”
Team Ireland, led by chef d’equipe Michael Blake, concluded the first qualifier for team and individual athletes at the European Showjumping Championships with a smashing clear from a relatively new combination, Eoin McMahon riding Ludger Beerbaum’s great mare Mila. They are one of three combinations in action at the European Showjumping Championships from the world-famous Ludger Beerbaum stables.
“There was no plan B or C, everything was plan A,” reflected 27-year-old Eoin, who is eighth in the individual standings. “We’re getting there – we had a couple of a couple of teething problems, just while we were getting to know each other… she’s a mare, she has a lot of blood! But she’s brilliant, I’m delighted and that’s a great way to finish the day.”
Sweden are currently in the gold medal position, just a fraction ahead of Switzerland with Germany currently in third. Great Britain finished day one in 1oth position.
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