Ireland finishes equal second in Spanish Nations’ Cup

IRELAND staged an impressive recovery at the five-star Nations’ Cup in Gijon, Spain today (Saturday) to finish equal second behind France with just one fence separating them from the winners.

One of five teams to share fourth spot on eight faults after the first round, Ireland fought to stay clear of further penalties while other nations faltered, and at the finish only Great Britain shared the runner-up spot with Robert Splaine’s team.

The USA and Canada failed to make the cut at the end of the first round, leaving eight nations in the battle, but Ireland’s pathfinder, Mayo’s Cameron Hanley, set the bar high with a double clear round on the mare Z Acodate DDL.

Cork’s Anthony Condon, making his five-star team debut, delivered just one fault in each round with Aristio, while Army rider Capt. Michael Kelly came back from a four-fault opener to deliver a decisive zero score in the second round aboard the Irish Sport Horse Ringwood Glen.

Anchorman and former World Champion, Co. Down’s Dermott Lennon, had a discard eight-fault first round, but sealed Ireland’s joint runner-up place with a clear second round on another Irish Sport Horse, Loughview Lou Lou.

Afterwards, Irish show jumping team manager Robert Splaine commented: “Cameron Hanley’s double clear round on Patrick Mielnik’s Z Acodate DDL was special, particularly as the horse was having his first Nations’ Cup here today. Only five other combinations from a total of 40 achieved this result.

“We also had a decisive second round clear from Capt. Michael Kelly and the Minister for Defence’s Irish Sport Horse Ringwood Glen, this horse having his first appearance at five star team jumping.

“It was also great to see Anthony Condon make his five-star Nations’ Cup debut with such a fine performance on Pat and John Hales’s home bred Aristio, a horse that has never jumped in any Nations’ Cup before.

“An outstanding clear round from our anchor man Dermott Lennon and that magnificent servant of Irish show jumping, Judith Sossick’s Loughview Lou Lou, came at a crucial time to help us get on the podium.”

France won the Spanish Nations’ Cup on a total of four faults. Ireland and Great Britain each had eight faults.