/ Equestrian

Nations Cup glory for Ireland

Updated: Friday, 20 Jul 2012 19:01

Shane Breen was on the Ireland team which triumphed at Hickstead
Shane Breen was on the Ireland team which triumphed at Hickstead

Ireland showed they remain a force in European team showjumping - despite failing to qualify for London 2012 - by winning today's FEI Nations Cup round at Hickstead.

It was a timely recovery for Ireland, who held eighth and last place in the overall Nations Cup standings going into Hickstead.

And Britain, despite finishing just outside the podium places, climbed three positions to third overall.

Germany, though, were crowned overall Nations Cup champions one round inside the distance, as their third spot at Hickstead means they will take a 10-point overall advantage to Dublin and now cannot be overhauled by second-placed France.

Ireland's Hickstead victory meant they lifted the gold Prince of Wales Cup for a first time since 2001 and also climbed a place, relegating Belgium to bottom spot.

And it also gave them a degree of consolation for their London failure as all four riders - Shane Breen, Richie Moloney, Darragh Kerins and Clem McMahon - jumped at least one clear round.

Moloney posted a clear in each round on Ahorn van der Zuuthoeve, a feat emulated by only one rider on the day, France's Eugenie Angot.

Ireland will have two individual showjumping entrants at London - Billy Twomey and Cian O'Connor - but no team entry in an Olympic competition that should see Germany start as gold medal favourites.

"It means a lot to win here," said Ireland team manager Robert Splaine, after his team avoided a jump-off when final French rider Penelope Leprevost had a fence down.

"We needed a big result today, and we got it. Everyone jumped at least one clear round, and Richie produced a double clear, which was fantastic on his Nations Cup debut.

"I am hoping now for a good result in Dublin next month, which we also need.

"I knew I had four fantastic riders today, and I am always optimistic.

"You don't feel an average team for these competitions - they are too tough - but I do feel we've had a bit of misfortune that has followed us around this season.

"In this business, there are more downs and ups, and when you are down you have to be strong to come back. It takes a special mentality to be a successful professional showjumper."

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