/ Equestrian

Ireland improve position in Madrid

Updated: Friday, 16 Sep 2011 20:46

Billy Twomey was the star Irish performer in Spain
Billy Twomey was the star Irish performer in Spain

The Ireland team of Shane Sweetnam, Nicola FitzGibbon, Denis Lynch and Billy Twomey moved up to seventh place in the European Show Jumping Championships in Madrid on Thursday, with a clear round from Twomey putting him in second place individually.

Critically, Ireland are now ahead of Switzerland, Spain and Portugal, three of the countries bidding for Olympic qualification.

However, the Netherlands (first place) and Sweden (sixth place) are also contenders for qualification, so the Irish quartet must hold off the challenge from those teams below them to stay amongst the top trio in the team final.

Sweetnam and Amaretto Darco incurred eight faults, while championship debutant FitzGibbon and Puissance were once again the discard score with a total of 21 faults.

Lynch and Lantinus had an uncharacteristic nine faults, leaving Ireland vulnerable until Twomey and Tinka's Serenade produced a copybook clear to hoist Ireland back up from the danger zone.

Friday will see the final round of the European team competition, with Ireland under most threat from Switzerland, who are currently in eighth place, just 1.54 championship points behind.

Only ten teams go through to the team final, with Sunday seeing the top 25 riders compete for the individual medals.