Ireland's show jumping team finish as runners-up in Florida

The Irish Show Jumping team have scored their third podium finish of the season, after taking runner-up spot in the Wellington Nations Cup in Florida, USA in the early hours of this morning.

Ireland were bidding to win the Wellington Nations Cup for the third year in-a-row, but were narrowly beaten for the top prize by Britain.

Cork’s Shane Sweetnam was first in for Ireland with Indra Van De Oude Heihoef and with the grey mare owned by The Blue Buckle Group, got Ireland off to the perfect start with a clear round. Limerick’s Paul O’Shea with Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu (owned by Skara Glen’s Stables), then delivered a second clear to put Ireland in a strong position.

Limerick’s Paul O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu jumped double clear at the Wellington Nations Cup in Florida.

Tipperary’s Denis Lynch was the discard score in the first round after picking up eight faults with the Rushy Marsh Farm-owned RMF Cadeau De Muze, while Ireland’s anchor rider, Meath’s Cian O’Connor, finished with five faults aboard Clenur (owned by Armin Himmelreich). This left Ireland in fourth place at the halfway stage on five faults.

The second round saw both Shane Sweetnam and Paul O’Shea again deliver clear rounds, as Ireland kept the pressure on the leaders Britain along with Mexico and Brazil who were sharing second place after round one.

A foot perfect clear round from Denis Lynch meant Ireland would remain on their first round total of five faults without the need for Cian O’Connor to jump with Clenur. Britain took the winners prize with a two round total of zero faults ahead of Ireland in second, while Mexico took third place on the podium with a total of 10 faults.

Irish development team manager Michael Blake was delighted with Ireland’s performance, particularly in the second round,

“I’m really pleased with our riders. We jumped five clear rounds which normally would be good enough to win but hats off to Britain, they were fantastic and deserving winners on the night,” Blake commented.

“It would have been nice to win here for the third year in-a-row but it got a small bit away from us in the first round. We battled back really well in the second round with really good double clear rounds from Shane Sweetnam and Paul O’Shea. Denis Lynch gave us a clear to leave us on zero in the second round without Cian needing to jump. We tried out some new combinations which is what you need to do to build a squad. I want especially to thank all our horse’s owners for their fantastic support.”

The result comes on the back of another Nations Cup runner-up finish for Ireland last month in the United Arab Emirates, while Ireland finished third in the Ocala Nations Cup in Florida a fortnight ago.

Ireland’s focus now moves to their all-important first points-scoring Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup in Europe Division 1 at Samorin (SVK) in April, followed by La Baule (FRA), Falsterbo (SWE), Hickstead (GBR) and Ireland’s home Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse Show in August where the Aga Khan trophy will be up for grabs.

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