Equestrian: Flying trio seal sixth for Irish
Ireland finished sixth in the first leg of the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup series in La Baule, France, yesterday with fine performances from Shane Breen, Cameron Hanley and Darragh Kenny and heartbreak for Niall Talbot.
Breen and Carmel Ryan's Carmena Z produced one of only six double-clear performances, while Hanley made just a single mistake in the second round with the flamboyant Southwind VDL. And 22-year-old rookie Kenny recovered from an edgy eight-fault opening effort to pick up just four second time out with Obelix.
But Talbot was forced to retire his gallant 16-year-old mare Tequi d'I just one fence from home on his second tour of the track after she struck into herself and pulled up extremely lame.
With no score recorded for this partnership, that put Kenny and Hanley under intense pressure but the young Offalyman rose to the challenge. In the first round Kenny had already lowered the middle of the combination before suffering stage-fright on the long run to the water where he almost pulled his horse up as he struggled to find a stride. But second time out he kept his head and lowered only the following vertical, while Hanley hit the following oxer.
A 16 fault total left the team just two faults behind the fifth-placed Spanish while Britain and German shared third with 12 faults each and the USA were runners-up with eight faults behind the victors French.
Breen was in flying form earlier in the day when, riding Dorada, got pipped for the honours by America's McLain Ward on Pjotter in the first speed class in which Kenny and placed sixth. Breen also finished fourth with Mullaghdrin Gold Rain in the 1.50m Prix Generali speed event.