Condon leads charge as Irish and Cournane hang on
Ireland's showjumpers fought back from a tough first round to finish sixth in the opening leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup series at Al Ain in the UAE where France came out on top.
An experimental Irish side, managed by James Tarrant in the absence of Robert Splaine who is recovering from surgery earlier this week, found themselves just about hanging on when lying eighth of the 11 starting nations at the end of the first round.
But they rallied brilliantly in the second round to produce the best team result, adding just four faults to move up to two places.
Brian Cournane led the Irish attack in the first round but his horse, Javas Keltic Mist, was fired up from the outset and when the pair got it all wrong down the final line of fences and the Irishman was unseated in dramatic fashion. He managed to cling on for dear life and hit the ground after passing the finish line to return with just eight faults instead of elimination.
In contrast, Anthony Condon produced a spectacular clear from the fabulous stallion Aristio which looks the image of his sire, the brilliant Arko.
Marion Hughes followed with 13 faults from Can Ya Makan and Dermott Lennon was just one better with 12 on the board with Fleur, but Lennon returned with a great clear second time out while both Cournane and Hughes reduced their score-rates with four and five faults respectively.
Condon's Aristio was the star however when producing one of just two double-clear performances of the day.
Another Irish team will line out in Ocala, Florida tonight for the second leg of the series.