Ireland’s equestrians have been riding high in recent weeks, and its showjumpers added to the country’s international successes with their win in the Aga Khan Trophy in Dublin on Friday afternoon.
The quartet of Darragh Kerins, Clem McMahon, Richie Moloney and Cian O’Connor claimed the Nations Cup for Ireland for the first time since 2004 in a convincing display of horsemanship.
With just five faults on the board at the end of two thrilling rounds, the Irish team never looked in danger of conceding defeat, and when Kevin Staut collected four faults in France’s last attempt to draw level, Ireland’s anchorman and Olympic Bronze Medallist Cian O’Connor did not need to jump for a second time to improve the Irish score.
Clones-born Clem McMahon and the eight year-old Pacino produced a double clear as pathfinder, while US-based Richie Moloney and Ahorn Van De Zuuthoeve had one time fault and a second-round zero score. Darragh Kerins also flew in from his US base for the final round of the Superleague and produced a clear first round on the Irish Sport Horse Lisona, adding four in their second outing.
Meath-based O’Connor, fresh from his Olympic success, was unlucky to have the very last rail down in an otherwise perfect opening round, but did not need to jump in the second round as Ireland’s Aga Khan victory was already assured.
The result also lifted Ireland well clear of the relegation zone in the Superleague, moving the nation to third place in the leaderboard of the world’s top eight show jumping teams.
Irish riders and horses have had a succession of outstanding results in the last month, with O’Connor’s bronze medal complemented by a team fifth place in Olympic Eventing and a seventh in individual eventing from Aoife Clark.
On Thursday, Ireland’s junior show jumpers snatched the gold medal in the European Championships in Austria, while in July Ireland’s Under-16 pony eventing team swept to victory at the European Championships in Fontainebleau, France, with Galway’s Cathal Daniels added to the triumph by winning the Individual Gold, and Tipperary’s Ana O’Brien – daughter of racing’s Aidan O’Brien – claiming Bronze.
Last week, the Irish Young Rider team took the silver medal at the European Eventing Championships in Malmo, Sweden.
Nations Cup result:
1. Ireland 5 faults: Pacino (Clem McMahon) 0/0, Ahorn van de Zuuthoeve (Richie Moloney) 1/0, Lisona (Darragh Kerins) 0/4, Blue Loyd (Cian O’Connor 4/DNS.
2. France 8 faults: Topinambour (Penelope Leprevost) 4/Elim, Nippon d’Elle (Roger Yves Bost) 0/0, OHM De Ponthual (J Hurel) 8/0, Reveue de Hurtebise HDC (Kevin Staut) 0/4.
3. Great Britain 9 faults: Carlo (Nick Skelton) 16/0, Voila (Robert Smith) 5/4, Hello Sailor (Tina Fletcher) 0/0, Argento (John Whitaker) 0/Ret.
4. Netherlands 16 faults: Tobalio (Albert Voorn) 4/0, VDL Bubalu (Jur Vrieling) 4/0, Sterrhof’s Opium (Marc Houtzager) 4/4, BMC Quality time (Jeroen Dubbeldam) 12/4.
5. Belgium 24 faults: Challenge vd Begijnakker (Ludo Phliippaerts) 4/0, bufero Vh Panishof (Dirk Demeersman) 4/0, D’Athlantique Royale (Francois Mathy Jr) 8/8, Cabrio van de Heffinck (Olivier Philippaerts) 12/8.
5. Switzerland 24 faults: Luis Della Caccia (Arthur Da Silva) 4/4, Carpalo (Steve Guerdat) 8/12, Palloubet D’Halong (Jannika Sprunger) 4/8, Verdi III (Pius Schwizer) 4/0.
7. Sweden 28 faults: Lunatic (Jens Fredricson) 0/0, SIEC Livello (Angelica Augustsson) 0/8, Glory Days (Daniel Zetterman) 4/16, Matrix (Lisen Fredricson) 4/20.
8. Germany 29 faults: Corradina (Carsten-Otto Nagel) 0/4, Chopin (Tim Rieskamp-Goedeking) 8/12, JK Horsetrucks Commanchi (Jorg Naeve) 12/8, Magnus Romeo (Hans-Dieter Dreher) 9/0.
FEI Nations Cup 2012 – Final Standings after Round 8 at Dublin (IRL):
1. Germany – 48.00
2. France – 44.00
3. Ireland – 39.00
4. Great Britain – 38.00
5. Switzerland – 35.00
6. Netherlands – 34.50
7. Sweden – 33.50
8. Belgium – 32.00