Cian O'Connor inspires Ireland to victory in $100,000 Nations Cup event in Florida
The Irish Show Jumping team picked up a memorable victory in the $100,000 four star Nations Cup in Florida on Friday night.
Cian O'Connor, jumping last, delivered a crucial clear on Seringat to top off a fantastic performance and hand Ireland the trophy for the third time.
Ireland had a fantastic start which saw Cork's Shane Sweetnam pick up a perfect clear round aboard Chaqui Z before Tipperary’s Kevin Babington and Shorapur, owned by Shorapur LLC, lowered just the penultimate fence first time out.
After the first round Ireland were ahead of both Mexico and the hosts USA with four faults and a fence in hand and looked to be in cruise control.
However after a 12 fault score from Kilkenny's Richie Maloney and Carrabis Z along with a clear round from America's Beezie Madden, the pressure was on O'Connor who needed a clear round of his own to secure the trophy for Ireland.
O'Connor and the Ronocco Jump-owned Seringat, comfortably cleared every pole and crossed the line with their second clear round of the competition ensuring Ireland's victory.
Team manager Micheal Blake was full of praise for his team following their outstanding performance. “The boys jumped great, Cian was under pressure at the end after Beezie Madden jumped clear" began Blake. “I couldn’t be happier with all four guys, it was a team effort and they were a pleasure to work with.
Blake also explained how the victory would give his side a big boost in confidence “We had a game plan and we stuck to it. We are really delighted with the win. It was very competitive in that the American’s had their strongest team out and were chasing points. This gives us good confidence going forward.”
Ireland will begin their European Division 1 Nations Cup campaign at La Baule, France in May.