Irish need a big display in France
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."