Ireland has been dogged by misfortune this year, but they celebrated taking the Hickstead leg of the 2012 FEI Nations Cup.
It was their first win of the season and their first victory here since 2001 and moves them up one place from bottom of the league table.
“We needed a big result,” said chef d’equipe Robert Splaine.
The competition went to the wire. Ireland was on zero with France and Germany after round one, and although Germany surprisingly fell back, France was strong. It was down to the final riders.
Ireland’s anchor Clem McMahon had every confidence in his eight-year-old stallion Pacino — and the belief was justified with a much-needed clear.
“The going was fantastic, I just had to ride properly,” said Clem.
The pressure was piled onto France’s Penelope Leprevost, who wasn’t required to start in round one with Topinambour. She had to equal the clear to force a jump-off, but an early fence fell — Ireland were the victors.
“I have four fantastic, focused riders” said Robert Splaine on Clem, Shane Breen (Cos I Can), Darragh Kerins’ Lisona and Richie Molone — one of only two double clears with Ahorn Van De Zuuthoeve.
Britain finished fourth on 20. William Funnell’s Billy Angelo and Peter Charles on Murkas Nevada both clocked four faults in each round. Tina Fletcher and Hello Sailor jumped for clear and four, while John Whitaker and Argento recorded eight and four.
France’s Eugenie Angot, the only other Nations Cup double clear on Old Chap Tame, had show form earlier in the day.
No-one could match her and Davendy S in the Bunn Leisure international stakes, although there were several close challenges. Brit Joe Clayton was a fraction behind on Michael Whitaker’s nine-year-old Antello Z.
FEI nations cup 1, IRE 4 (S Breen/Cos I Can 0+4, R Moloney/Ahorn Van De Zuuthoeve 0+0, D Kerins/Lisona 0+4 & C McMahon/Pacino Rt+0); 2, FRA 8 (E Angot/Old Chap Time 0+0, K Staut/Reveur De Hurtebise 0+4, A de Ponnat/Armitages Boy 0+4 & P Leprevost/Topinambour NS/Rt); 3, GER 12 (P Weishaupt/Catoki 0+4, H Wulschner/Cefalo 4+12, L Beerbaum/Chiara 0+4 & M Kutscher/Cornet Obolensky 0+4); 4, GBR 20 (W Funnell/Billy Angelo 4+4, P Charles/Murkas Nevada 4+4, T Fletcher/Hello Sailor 0+4 & J Whitaker/Argento 8+4). Bunn Leisure International stakes. 1, Davendy S (E Angot), FRA; 2, Antello Z (J Calyton), GBR; 3, China Blue 4 (P Weishaupt), GER.
1.20m. 1, Rowena (C Purves); 2, S Zermie 3; 3, Gucciland (O Gent). Old Lodge 1.30m. 1, LVS No Doubt (L Long); 2, Electra IV (G Talbot); 3, Waterstone II (R Whitaker). Gray Horseboxes 1m. 1, Penny Market; 2, Uriek; 3, Master Campbell (E Merrick). nov stakes. 1, Zlatan II (M Dorgan); 2, Hobgoblin (N Steed); 3, Bishopshall Jenny (L Johnson). Saracen Horse Feeds amateur 1.10m. 1 & 3, Ballinteskin Bankers Hill & Touch Of Gold V (S Evans); 2, Mirah Kilgobben Rebel. Old Lodge young breeding horse qual. 1, Festiena Van Texelhof (N Pavitt); 2, Sussex Caretino (L Pavitt); 3, Shahenaz (S Breen). Horse & Hound Foxhunter. 1 & 3, Market Irminka & Doma Sue (T Priest); 2, Zandokhan H.