Ireland eventing manager Nick Turner was not dissatisfied to see his team finish runner-up to the British again in the nations cup at Ballindenisk International Horse Trials yesterday, suggesting it was a realistic result.
None of the Irish team posted sub-50 dressage scores, which meant they were chasing the defending champions from the outset, but jumping clears from Joseph Murphy (Sportsfield Othello) and Cathal Daniels (Barnaboy Freeman) in both show jumping and yesterday’s cross-country, along with Michael Ryan’s (Ballylynch Adventure) jumping clear over yesterday’s fixed obstacles, saw the team finish on 182.5 penalties, just 1.9 better than the French, but just shy of 20 penalties behind the winners in the three-country CIC three-star contest.
“I’m very happy to come second,” said Turner.
“We’ve got a lot of horses that were used abroad recently and we’ve used horses here as a run ahead of Badminton and some have missed a bit of a run beforehand, so I knew we were always going to be up against it, but they did come home clear and were competitive enough.”
Ireland were reduced to three riders after Nicola Ennis, making her nations cup debut on Westwinds Jack of Hearts, withdrew prior to yesterday’s cross-country following a disappointing display in Saturday’s show jumping that saw her put up 21 faults.
Turner cited the fact the horse had lost a shoe during the round, adding its non-appearance yesterday was due it subsequently being “a bit sore”.
Loughrea native Daniels did not have a great start on Barnaboy Freeman’s three-star debut, scoring 61.1pens in dressage, but the stallion was solid over the cross-country.
Michael Ryan is tackling Badminton in a fortnight with Ballylynch Adventure and he was delighted with the prep afforded by Ballindenisk after a winter that saw many events cancelled.
“He jumped well. It’s his first time out this year and fair play to the Fells [the event organisers], they had a lovely big track, nothing too technical, but enough questions to see if he was on form and the ground was very good.
“He had a good blow in, so he should be set up for Badminton,” said the Bandon-based rider.
Individual honours in the contest went to British legend Pippa Funnell, finishing on her dressage score of 46.8pens. Funnell - who also leads the CCI three-star going into today’s show jumping - was the only rider to not pick up faults in the other two phases.
Runner-up Ollie Townend certainly would have rued his eight faults in show jumping to conclude on 48.7pens on the Irish-bred Cooley SRS, the gelding that carried him to victory last September in Ballindenisk.
Joseph Murphy on Sportsfield Othello was best of the Irish in sixth place with 55.1pens.
Meanwhile, in show jumping, Bertram Allen and Molly Malone had a disappointing outing in the Global Champions Tour in Antwerp, the Netherlands, ahead of Friday’s Belgian Nations Cup, finishing on eight faults.
However, the Wexford 20-year-old produced rounds of four and zero with the mare yesterday as he joined his Valkenswaard United team-mate John Whitaker (Ornellaia) to place second in the Global Champions League team contest.
At the two-star show in Eschweiler, Germany, Anthony Condon rode Aristio to victory in the grand prix.
Like Allen, he is also on the squad to contest next Friday’s Belgian Nations Cup, along with Cian O’Connor, Greg Broderick, and Denis Lynch.
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