Rodrigo Pessoa hopes it’s third time lucky in bid for Aga Khan

Rodrigo Pessoa hopes it’s third time lucky in bid for Aga Khan
Ireland’s show jumping team manager Rodrigo Pessoa

Ireland’s show jumping team manager Rodrigo Pessoa is set for his third attempt to win the Aga Khan trophy at the Stena Line Dublin Horse Show which gets underway at the Royal Dublin Society today.

“Obviously as the manager you’d love to to put your hands on that cup,” he told the Irish Examiner.

“It would be great, but we will be against really good, strong teams. We’ve come here with the objective of doing very well. I’m sure the four guys who start on Friday will be really, really keen.”

The riders he is pinning his Aga Khan hopes on this year are Cian O’Connor (PSG Final), Shane Sweetnam (Chaqui Z), Darragh Kenny (Important de Muze) and Paul O’Shea (Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu), with Peter Moloney (Ornellaia) as reserve. They are also the five riders constituting his squad for the important European Championships two weeks from now, though not all with the same horses they are set to use in Dublin.

“We have one or two horses that need to run before the Europeans and that’s why they’re jumping here,” the manager said.

“Other ones will be rested in preparation for the Europeans.”

Ireland last won the Aga Khan in 2015 and both O’Connor and Kenny were part of that victory along with Greg Broderick and Bertram Allen.

Pessoa’s two previous attempts to guide Ireland to victory saw his team finish fifth in 2017 and in a share of second place last year.

He doesn’t feel burdened by the pressure of home expectations.

When we go abroad obviously we want to do well, but here it’s a little bit extra, for the team, for the fans. There’s more adrenaline, more pressure, but that’s what we like.

The Nations Cup takes place on Friday from 3pm.

Team affairs apart, the individual classes get underway today with the Speed Stakes in the morning, the Dublin Airport Central Minerva Stakes early in the afternoon, and later, the Sport Ireland Classic, won last year by Darragh Kenny and Balou du Reventon.

Thursday’s international action includes the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge Speed Derby, followed by the Stablelab Stakes, which produced an Irish win last year for Shane Sweetnam on Indra van de Oude Heihoef.

Saturday features the TheraPlate RDS Stakes and the Longines Dublin Stakes, with the ever-popular Land Rover Puissance taking place from 6.10pm.

The €350,000 Longines Grand Prix concludes the action on Sunday.

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