The Irish team's chances in the Jumping Championship at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky were shattered yesterday by big scores for Dermott Lennon and Denis Lynch.
However, Billy Twomey is soaring up the leaderboard, and was already in the top 10 going into the closing stages of the first round of the team competition last night.
Twomey produced a classic clear when first into the ring for Ireland with Tinka's Serenade, but Lennon collected 13 faults when second to go.
His gelding, Hallmark Elite, hit the wall at six and the horse, which had a terrible fall at the water in Hickstead in July, needed strong encouragement from his rider at the open water, but cleared it cleanly.
The penultimate double of verticals, however, was one of the real traps on the 13-fence track, riding on a forward four or short five-stride distance from the previous oxer, and Hallmark Elite hit the second element and then also dropped the final parallel, picking up an additional single time penalty.
Cian O'Connor raised Irish spirits with another great performance from Dr Michael Smurfit's mare, K Club Lady, which jumped clear in Monday's opening session, but, attempting to perfect the penultimate line of fences, clipped the oxer at 11.
The mare strained a fetlock joint during her round -- an injury similar to a twisted ankle -- and seemed an unlikely starter for the second round of the team competition.
Despite that disappointment, O'Connor reckoned the Irish could still be competitive. "If Lantinus jumps a clear then we're still at the races," he said, before Lynch went into the ring.
However, Lynch's three mistakes, all late on the track, put paid to Irish prospects as it brought the their tally to 30.54, dropping them to an unconfirmed 14th place, and a long way off the front runners.