Hickstead reality check for Irish, but no relegation

HAVING won the German Nations Cup two weeks ago, Ireland’s show jumpers were given a reality check yesterday, when they finished a disappointing sixth in the British equivalent at Hickstead.

However, the result was good enough to end any worries of relegation in a year when an unprecedented four of the 10 countries in the series will drop to the second tier.

Tipperary’s Shane Breen and Carmena Z opened with 12 faults, followed by Dermott Lennon and Hallmark Elite on 9. Matters improved with five from Billy Twomey and Je t’Aime Flamenco, but then Denis Lynch and Nabab’s Son finished on 12 to leave the team sixth on a midway total of 26.

Round two saw Hickstead resident Breen return on nine faults, before former world champion Lennon took a fall at the water. Twomey ensured a rally of sorts when jumping clear with one time fault, followed by a clear from Lynch for a team total of 36 faults. This was just one more than fifth-placed Netherlands, and two more than fourth-placed France.

Victory went to the home side on a total of seven faults.

The performance saw Ireland drop to fifth in the Meydan Series, but their 31.5 points ensured they will be among the world’s elite in 2011, which provided some satisfaction for manager Robert Splaine.

“It’s a day of mixed feelings. We came with a good team, but hadn’t the best of first rounds. There were better scores in round two, but Dermott’s fall was unfortunate, as he was jumping well in the practice arena and I was confident he would improve significantly on his first round. The main thing is that we put our relegation worries to bed,” said Splaine.

The same four riders, along with Cian O’Connor, are listed to contest the Aga Khan trophy next Friday, but Splaine said it was too early to fully make a determination on Lennon’s Hallmark Elite following their fall.

“Dermott and Hallmark Elite both seemed fine, but the horse needs the benefit of some time before we can know for sure,” said the Corkman.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s pony team of Bertram Allen (Acapella Z), Tom Foley (Dibidoe), Shane Kenny (More Clover) and Emma O’Dwyer (Kalim De Montlieu) took silver in the European Championships at Bishop Burton, England, following a jump-off with Belgium. Germany took gold.


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