Ireland win Swiss Nations Cup

Having not competed at the top level since last year, Greg Broderick and MHS Going Global laid down a late marker for Olympic selection yesterday, producing a double clear to help Ireland win the Furusiyya Series nations cup in a rain-soaked St Gallen, Switzerland.

Ireland win Swiss Nations Cup

Cian O’Connor had predicted the outcome and he played a crucial part in fulfilling his prophesy, producing a cool-headed clear as anchor rider with Good Luck when the pressure was on to seal the victory after an opening round of four faults.

His clean sheet came after a clear from third man Bertram Allen (Molly Malone V), the Wexford rider redeeming himself after a disastrous opening round that included a stop at the third part of the treble to finish with 10 faults.

Denis Lynch and All Star 5 had single errors in both rounds, as the team finished on eight faults, coming from joint second place at the half-way stage to overtake Germany, who joined the US, Sweden, and France in a four-way tie for second place when Hans-Dieter Dreher (Cool and Easy) failed to match O’Connor’s clear.

It is difficult to say how Broderick’s double clear, one of only four in the contest, will impact on manager Robert Splaine’s deliberations as he prepares to announce next week the sole Irish show jumper to travel to Rio de Janeiro. With the grand prix in St Gallen to come tomorrow, the Corkman was keeping his cards close to his chest.

“Greg’s performance was excellent. It’s difficult to jump a clear at this top level, but to jump a double clear deserves special mention,” said Splaine, the win providing the perfect gift on his birthday.

“I’ve always said Greg, Denis, Bert, and Cian are the main contenders for the Olympics and that remains the case.

“Today was an interesting day and I learned a lot. It’s after this weekend that I will make my decision. It’s too early to say who will do what, if anything, before the weekend is over.

“I will pick the combination of horse and rider that I feel will deliver for Ireland in Rio. Whatever factors bring me to that conclusion are the only factors I will consider.

“My responsibility is to achieve the best result in the nations cup and to name my four riders in whatever order I feel appropriate. After that, comes a very lucrative grand prix and the riders are at liberty to decide if they want to compete in it or not.

“Obviously, the win was a great result, which we needed in light of the Belgian nations cup cancellation and the system that is in place, where the scores from our three point-gaining shows, which also include Falsterbo in Sweden and Dublin, are added and divided by three to give us our fourth score.

“That means that today’s result carries even more significance, but we need to be good in the next shows too.”

Broderick was delighted with his flawless afternoon.

“My horse is a nations cup specialist and he was in great form here, everything was right,” he said.

Talking about the weather conditions he said: “Of course we were a bit worried about the rain. He [MHS Going Global] would definitely prefer the top of the ground, but so would 99% of show jumping horses.

"It takes a bit to adjust to it when the ground changes, but he’s such a talented horse he just jumps within himself and makes it easy.”

Ireland’s eventers were also in scorching form at a sun-bathed Tattersalls Horse Trials in Co Meath yesterday, with Cork’s Austin O’Connor (Kilpatrick Knight) leading two of his compatriots at the top of the leaderboard in the CIC three-star.

Places on the Irish Olympic team are on offer and O’Connor’s impressive 42.30 penalties in dressage will help his claim, though Jonty Evans (Cooley Rorkes Drift) on 43.30pens and Padraig McCarthy (Bernadette Utopia), lying third on 44.30pens, are also set up nicely to challenge for honours with the show jumping and cross-country phases to come.

McCarthy is also figuring in the CCI three-star, lying second with Mr Chunky.

In dressage, Kildare’s Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K won yesterday's four-star grand prix at Achleiten, Austria, setting a new Irish record score of 75.240%. Barring some misfortune, Reynolds is guaranteed to be Ireland’s representative at Rio.

"I was delighted to win my first international big tour grand prix and set a new Irish international record score,” said Reynolds.

"The test flowed and it felt like we had a lot of time. After his recent break JP [Vancouver K] settled today.  There were a couple of little glitches, but when you are scoring 9s for the entry and rein back, it helps build a big score."

Success for Ireland’s show jumpers also emerged in the US, where Kevin Babington won the $225,000 grand prix in Devon, Pennsylvania, for the second time in five years.

The Tipperary rider came out tops in a dramatic three-way jump-off, setting a fast clear as pathfinder. Danielle Torano proved too slow when next in, but even Babington admitted he was resigned to American McLain Ward taking the top prize with Rothchild.

It looked likely until the last fence, when Ward’s Pan American gold medalist ducked out after losing his focus when the enthusiastic crowd let out a yell.

"I thought to myself, whatever I do McLain is going to figure out a better plan anyway," joked Babington.

"The leave-out to the double was risky for me, but I knew I could be fast across the ring. At that stage I thought had already sort of lost it, but it's always nice to win a class."

Corkman Shane Sweetnam clinched his first win of the season at Tryon, North Carolina, winning a €35,000 jump-off class on Cyklon 1083.

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