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Independent.ie

Thursday 27 July 2017

Irish need a big display in France

Greg Broderick jumnped a clear round on Going Global at Ireland's Nationas Cup opener in Belgium
Greg Broderick jumnped a clear round on Going Global at Ireland's Nationas Cup opener in Belgium
Siobhan English

Siobhan English

IRELAND only managed eighth in the opening leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup team show jumping series in Lummen, Belgium, but team manager Robert Splaine is confident that they can regain ground when the series moves to La Baule, France this week.

The opening leg in Lummen threw down a difficult challenge and the Italians emerged best at the end of two rounds, with Belgium and Great Britain second and third. Ireland struggled from the outset, clocking up 21 faults in the first round.

And, despite a clear from Nations' Cup newcomer Greg Broderick with the Irish-bred MHS Going Global in the second round, Ireland trailed in last on 33 faults.

"As it was allocated to Ireland as our first Nations' Cup of the season, Lummen was always going to be a challenge, as my options for the team proved limited at this point," said Robert Splaine.

"However, it was great to see a new star emerging in the shape of Greg Broderick and MHS Going Global. He rode extremely well. This is a quality horse and he is a top-class jockey."

Broderick was joined in Lummen by Denis Lynch (Abbervail van het Dingeshof), Cameron Hanley (Living the Dream) and Billy Twomey (Diaghilev).

Having managed the senior Irish show jumping team for the past nine years, Splaine is well aware of the difficulties in selecting teams. He said the clashes of some Nations Cup events with other top shows such as the lucrative Global Champions Tour has made it increasingly difficult in recent years.

"A few years ago it was manageable and we were told that the Nations' Cup and Global shows would never clash. Now that is not always the case, but I always endeavour to select the best I have available."


Ireland has participated in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup series for decades and vied to remain among the top 10 teams in the world when the format changed in 2013.

Groups

Previously it consisted of a Top League and a Promotional League, but now there are seven groups: Europe I, Europe II, North and Central America, South America, Near East, Asia/Australasia and Africa.

Ireland is joined in the Europe I division by Belgium, France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Admittedly Ireland's participation in this division has not been easy and, although they remained within the top 10 in the league for 2014, they did not finish in the top seven (placed ninth) to qualify for the 2014 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping Series Final in Barcelona last September.

The format for gaining points on the leaderboard is complex and teams that finish down the pecking order are allocated venues, rather than choose the venues at which points can be earned.

Between them the 10 teams can gain points at eight shows. Ireland's other two counting venues will be St Gallen, Switzerland on Friday, June 5 and, of course, their home venue of the Dublin Horse Show on Friday, August 7.

Splaine is sending a strong team to La Baule, where Ireland placed third in 2014. "It would be nice to do well in the series, but the European Championships in Aachen (August 11-23) are our main aim. It would be fantastic to qualify a show jumping team for the 2016 Olympics," he said.

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