Twomey keeps Ireland in hunt for Olympic qualification
Billy Twomey is lying fifth and in early contention for an individual medal, and the Irish team is within sight of an Olympic qualifying spot, despite a difficult first day at the FEI European Jumping Championships in Madrid yesterday.
The last three places at London 2012 are up for grabs this week and although Sweden, Spain and Italy have them in their grasp after yesterday's opening speed event, the Irish are less than a point behind and can be expected to produce a considerably better result in today's first round of the Nations Cup.
Shane Sweetnam was the Irish pathfinder when sixth into the ring yesterday and produced a careful clear from Amaretto Darco in 85.7 seconds to get the the team off to a steady start.
The youngest team member, 23-year-old Nicola FitzGibbon, found herself in trouble at the triple combination at fence nine, however, and with faults added to time in this competition, returned in 98.00 seconds with her brave gelding Puissance.
It was then up to the veterans to restore the Irish equilibrium, but Denis Lynch faltered at the opening oxer when Lantinus wandered out to the right instead of jumping the fence and, with the clock ticking, this partnership crossed the line in 96.27.
However, Twomey galloped to the rescue when last to go, steering Tinka's Serenade round the 13-fence track like a guided missile to break the beam in 80.76 and this leaves him just 0.95 off the first-day leader, Frenchman Olivier Guillon (Lord de Theize).
The top end of the scoreboard is really tight, with the first 28 riders separated by less than one fence, so it is very much all to play for as today's action begins.
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