THE Irish show jumping team, managed by Clare's Michael Blake, claimed a memorable victory in today’s (Sunday) five-star Longines FEI Nations Cup at Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, with an outstanding performance that delivered six Irish clear rounds leaving them on a zero score at the finish.

Ireland were pushed all the way by the home team from the United Arab Emirates who finished as runners-up on four faults, while Britain finished third of the seven teams that competed on 17 faults. The result crowned a remarkable weekend for the Irish who also saw Shane Breen win Friday’s five-star Longines Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, while his younger brother Trevor Breen also won Saturday’s two-star Grand Prix at the same venue.

The in-form combination of Shane Breen and the Team Z7-owned Z7 Ipswich were first to go for Ireland in the first round and they didn’t touch a fence and finished inside the time allowed but they did pick up four faults at the water.

Jack Ryan (20) from Co Kilkenny was next in for Michael Blake’s team riding the Marguerite Ryan-owned and bred Irish Sport Horse BBS McGregor and they produced an immaculate clear round to keep Ireland among the early pace-setters.

Derry’s David Simpson and Foudre F, owned by Breen Equestrian & David Simpson, then added another fantastic clear to put Ireland in a very strong position with one rider left to go in the first round. Anchor rider Trevor Breen had a chance to put Ireland on a zero score if he could jump clear with the Heather Black-owned Highland President and he didn’t disappoint, producing a brilliant clear. That left Ireland in the lead at the halfway stage as the only team on a zero score. The home team from the United Arab Emirates were close behind in second on four faults

Second round

The UAE kept the pressure on Ireland at the start of the second round when their first rider, Abdullah Mohd Al Marri, jumped clear. However Shane Breen then matched his performance with an excellent clear with Z7 Ipswich to keep Ireland with a one fence advantage over the hosts. Another clear from the second UAE rider Hamad Ali Al Kirbi kept them on a four-fault score before Jack Ryan entered the arena for his second round. Just as he did in the first round, the Kilkenny rider and BBS McGregor jumped an outstanding round to complete a double clear performance.

Ali Hamad Al Kirbi produced another clear for the UAE as third to go in the second round, meaning the home team would finish on a two-round total of just four faults with three second round clears. Ireland needed a clear from one of their two remaining riders to take victory and they took their first opportunity to do so when David Simpson completed a brilliant double clear performance with Foudre F meaning Ireland could not be beaten.

The tricolour lights up the screen at Abu Dhabi celebrating the Irish team's victory in the Longines FEI Nations Cup


Horse Sport Ireland CEO Denis Duggan said afterwards: “Huge congratulations to Michael Blake and his team of Shane Breen, Jack Ryan, David Simpson and Trevor Breen on a brilliant win in the Nations Cup of the United Arab Emirates. This was a really excellent performance – a great start to the season and caps a superb weekend where Ireland won both Grand Prix competitions and the Nations Cup.”

ISH breeding details

BBS McGregor (ISH) – 2012 Gelding by Cardento (HOLST) out of Random Chance (ISH) by Mark Twain (TB), bred and owned by Marguerite Ryan (Co Kilkenny), ridden by Jack Ryan.

The Irish Show Jumping team is sponsored by Devenish and The Underwriting Exchange.

Equiline – Official athlete clothing supplier of Horse Sport Ireland.

Source: Horse Sport Ireland press release