WATCH - Ireland narrowly miss out on back-to-back Aga Khan victories after jump-off drama
Italy claimed the Aga Khan trophy in today's Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse Show in dramatic fashion, denying Ireland back-to-back victories.
The Italian and Irish finished on zero faults after a terrific display from both four-man teams in the opening two rounds.
It meant that the competition would be decided by a jump-off.
Denis Lynch, who has never been a part of a winning team in Dublin, and his mount All Star were nominated to go for Ireland and everything was going brilliantly until All Star baulked at the final obstacle and the pair suffered six faults.
Piergiorgio Bucci needed to better that score to take the crown and he jumped clear, much to the delight of the Italian team.
Ireland had a perfect score of zero after the first round with the eight faults of Bertram Allen and his mount Hector van d'Abdijhoeve discarded with the other three Irish partnerships jumping clear. They were joined on that score by the USA and Italy.
Denis Lynch and All Star were desperately unlucky not to jump a double-clear but they finished just one hundredth of a second over the time allowed of 81 seconds and incurred a single time fault.
Ireland's Rio-bound pair of Greg Broderick and HMS Going Global did deliver a double clear, illustrating the talent of their partnership ahead of the Olympic Games.
If anyone needed any reminder of Allen's talents, he delivered it by jumping a second round clear on Hector van d'Abdijhoeve. He displayed all his horsemanship with his mount proving a little jumpy on their trip around the RDS Arena.
Cian O'Connor and Good Luck jumped clear in the first round and knew that another clear would, at the very least, guarantee a jump-off with the Italians.
The bronze medallist from the London 2012 games duly delivered in spectacular style.
Following O'Connor's exploits, Italy's Bruno Chimirri needed to replicate the Meath-based rider to force a jump-off and he did.
The jump-off pitted Denis Lynch against Piergiorgio Bucci over seven fences.
Lynch was first into the ring and looked set to post a very daunting time but All Star refused at the last and incurred two time faults.
Bucci knew that he simply had to negotiate the the fences for victory and he was flawless.
"When you're second in the Aga Khan, you're never happy," Irish Chef d'Equipe Robert Splaine told RTE afterwards.
Points gained from today’s impressive performance in front of an enthralled crowd also ensured that Ireland qualify for the final of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup series in September, which has a €2m prize fund.