The Irish senior show jumping team finished the season on a high when landing victory in the Nations Cup at Vilamoura, Portugal, last Sunday.
Michael Blake’s team of four England-based riders in Anthony Condon, Jack Ryan, Shane Breen and Trevor Breen, finished best of 17 teams past the post in the three-star competition.
It was a family affair too as brothers Shane and Trevor Breen both contributed to a great win; Trevor was the sole double clear of the quartet aboard his mother-in-law Heather Black’s home-bred gelding Highland President.
Kilkenny’s Jack Ryan was making his senior debut on another home-bred, his mother Marguerite’s BBS McGregor, and produced a brilliant clear in the second round in front of his proud family. Ryan, who won a team silver medal at the Young Rider Europeans during the summer, is based at Shane Breen’s Hickstead yard in West Sussex.
Chef d’equipe Michael Blake commented: “It was a very good performance from our team. To win any Nations Cup is very difficult but with 17 teams this was always going to be a tough battle. Trevor Breen was fantastic once again. His strike rate in Nations Cup competitions is really impressive.
“It was an excellent Nations Cup debut for Jack Ryan and Anthony Condon jumped a very important clear at the start of the second round and Shane Breen had a good second round. It is a very good way to finish the Nations Cup season with a team that included two nine-year-old horses.
“I want to thank all our riders, owners and everyone involved today and during the past year and we can now look forward and plan for next year. We have had a lot of good days this year.
“What I’m really happy about is the development of the young people on the squads. We used 28 riders this year; three of them are still on junior (or young rider) teams and they were on winning squads so that is fantastic. I think the future is very bright for us.”
Trevor Breen produced the only clear for Ireland in the first round. Ryan and the Irish Sport Horse BBS McGregor (Cardento 933 x Mark Twain), and Condon with Pat Hales’ SFS Vincomte both faulted once, while Shane Breen picked up eight faults with Breen Equestrian’s Lady Star Van Dorperheide.
That left Ireland in a five-way share of the lead at the halfway stage on eight faults. The second round saw Condon get Ireland off to a great start with a faultless performance and Ryan followed suit to produce a perfect clear on a memorable debut. Shane Breen just faulted once and Ireland were in a battle with Italy for the winners’ prize as the last line riders took to the arena.
When Shane’s younger brother Trover completed his flawless display with the nine-year-old Highland President (Clinton x Kannan), Ireland could not be beaten on a final score of eight faults, with Italy and Switzerland sharing runner-up spot on 12 faults each. Breen was one of five double clears in the competition.
Irish riders didn’t feature in Friday’s three-star Grand Prix which was won by Britain’s James Wilson with Imagine de Muze. He was best of five double clears in 37.66 seconds, beating Sweden’s Linda Heed into second place.
On Thursday, Trevor Breen was best of the Irish in the three-star 1.45m as he slotted into fifth place with Germaine W when clear in 41.55. Later in the day, Breen took the runner-up place with Dancing Wolf O.L in the two-star 1.40m. In fifth place was Anthony Condon and Ajaccienne, ahead of Shane Breen and Gait L.
On Friday, Condon added to his tally when he took third place in the two-star two phase 1.40m. Riding the 11-year-old mare Ajaccienne, he lodged a clear in 26.05. On Saturday, Shane Breen added to the Irish tally as he took third place in the three-star 1.30m with the Irish Sport Horse gelding KBS Major Player (OBOS Quality x High Roller), owned by the Kennedy Brothers.