Ireland’s Olympic hopes remain while Great Britain misses the cut for Nations Cup final

  • In a day of high drama on the opening day of the Longines FEI Nations Cup final in Barcelona, Spain, defending champions Belgium lead the way as one of the eight teams to qualify for Sunday’s crucial decider.

    Among that pack is Ireland, who are bidding to secure qualification for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020, as well as France, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland, Colombia and Italy. The latter two will be battling it out with Ireland for the Olympic qualification spot.

    Ireland’s quartet of Peter Moloney (Chianti’s Champion), Paul O’Shea (Skara Glen’s Machu Piicchu), Darragh Kenny (Balou Du Reventon) and Cian O’Connor (PSG Final) finished on a team total of 10 points in fifth position, aided considerably by Darragh’s spectacular clear round.

    “We did our job today and have made it through to the final,” said Irish team manager Rodrigo Pessoa.

    “We were pushed all the way by some strong teams. We had some good rounds today and now we have to finish the task and try to take the Olympic place on Sunday.”

    Clears were hard to come by over a gruelling opening round track and Great Britain failed to qualify for Sunday’s final, finishing 14th of the 18 teams who lined up yesterday (3 October).

    Continues below…

    Pathfinder Amanda Derbyshire picked up 12 faults on the 11-year-old mare Luibanta, while Ellen Whitaker came home on eight with Arena UK Winston and Holly Smith and Hearts Destiny crossed the line with just a time-fault. Emily Moffitt took a crashing fall from her mount Winning Good at an oxer into the double. The pair left the arena seemingly unscathed, but it meant elimination for them.

    The British squad will now join hosts Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, USA, Japan, Brazil, Mexico and Egypt in Saturday’s Challenge Cup. Spain was one of four teams to tie in sixth place on 12 faults, but missed out on the final by less than half a second when qualification was decided by the teams’ accumulative times.

    Portugal was eliminated from the team competition after two of their riders had to withdraw on day one — Antonio Matos Almeida was injured prior to the start of the class while his team-mate Luis Sabino Goncalves also bowed out.

    For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

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