Wednesday 18 July 2018

All eyes on Rio qualifiers for 'untouchable' Team Ireland

Georgina Bloomberg on Lilli
Georgina Bloomberg on Lilli
Darragh Kenny, Ireland, competing on Sans Soucis Z in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup during the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show

Team Ireland has won the Aga Khan Cup for the 23rd time in its 89-year history, in what was possibly Ireland's most emphatic victory of all time.

Because they didn't just win, they trounced the opposition with a performance so strong that anchorman Darragh Kenny didn't even have to jump a second time.

Kenny and his teammates - Bertram Allen, Greg Broderick and Cian O'Connor - established their supremacy by the halfway stage when they were the only ones on a zero score. And, once in front, they didn't flinch.

With the best three scores to count for each team, Allen's opening four faults was the discard, but the Wexford man made no mistake second time out with the brilliant stallion Romanov.

And when Broderick was clear with the talented MHS Going Global, then the single mistake from O'Connor's extravagant jumper Good Luck left them on a final tally of four faults and untouchable for the trophy.

Other teams meanwhile had a very different day. Last year's American hero Charlie Jayne had an early bath when his horse dumped him in the water jump.

There was a good giggle at the post-competition press conference when Kenny said he didn't take up the option of jumping a second time "because there was always a danger I might just f**k it all up".

The mood was buoyant as Ireland has now secured a place at the prestigious Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final. The omens are also good for the European Championships in less than two weeks, which offer the last chance of qualification for the Rio Olympics. Louise Parkes

Irish Independent

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