Thursday 30 March 2017

Equestrian: New-look Irish team fall to second spot in Superleague

Equestrian

Louise Parkes

Ireland dropped to second place on the FEI Nations Cup Superleague leaderboard following their seventh-place finish in the third leg of the series at St Gallen, Switzerland, yesterday.

Heading the league table after their opening win at La Baule three weeks ago and a third-place finish in Rome last week, Robert Splaine's new-look side left only the struggling Danes and the non-finishers from Germany behind them yesterday as the Dutch recorded their second win in a row.

But Shane Sweetnam completed his contribution to the Irish effort with another great performance, picking up just six faults with Amaretto D'Arco over two tough rounds of jumping.

Splaine opted for a new-look side that included rookie Alexander Butler (23) as pathfinder. And the Meath man returned an excellent four-fault result at the end of his first round with Will Wimble. But it was a big ask for the partnership and, having hit the final element of the treble, things fell apart at the following water and they completed with 23 faults second time out.

American-based Jennifer Crooks steered the tail-swishing grey, SF Uryadi, home with eight faults first time out and returned a confident four-fault effort in round two. But Jessica Kuerten's API Largo racked up 21 faults, and the Irish total of 35 left them well off the leading pack.

It came down to a two-way battle between the Dutch and the host nation. And, for the second week running, the Dutch anchorman did not have to jump a second round as they already had it in the bag.

The series moves to Sweden next month, with Ireland lying 4.5 points off the Dutch at the top of the table.

Meanwhile, Irish pony riders Tom Foley, Bertram Allen, Max O'Reilly-Hyland and Emma O'Dwyer won the Nations Cup at Wierden, Holland on Thursday.

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Irish Independent

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