On an evening of high drama at the ECCO FEI World Show Jumping Championships in Herning, Denmark, an outstanding performance from Michael Blake’s Irish Show Jumping team of Denis Lynch, Bertram Allen, Cian O’Connor and Daniel Coyle, saw them take one of the five coveted places on offer for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
At the end of a thrilling Friday night, Ireland climbed from overnight ninth place to finish fourth overall – and at the finish, only missed out on the bronze medal by just one penalty.
Just the top 10 teams from the 22 that started the week made it through to the final session under floodlights, with Ireland starting the evening in ninth place overall, carrying forward a score of 17.15 penalties from the first two rounds held on Wednesday and Thursday.
Tipperary’s Denis Lynch was first to jump for Michael Blake’s Ireland with his Rome Grand Prix winner Brooklyn Heights.
The World No.25 produced an excellent round, jumping clear over the fences, picking up just one time fault over what was proving a very difficult course.
Wexford’s Bertram Allen then gave Ireland another huge boost when he jumped an outstanding clear round with The Irish Sport Horse Pacino Amiro. Those rounds from Lynch and Allen moved Ireland up five places to fourth with two riders left to jump for each of the 10 teams.
Third to go for Ireland, Meath’s Cian O’Connor and C Vier 2, were clear until the penultimate combination where they put one fence down and picked up one time fault for a five fault score. That score from O’Connor would prove vital, as Derry’s Daniel Coyle had a couple of fences down with Legacy, after which Coyle decided to retire knowing he couldn’t improve Ireland’s score.
As the course continued to take it’s toll on the world’s top horses and riders, Ireland continued to climb the leaderboard and when the last horse crossed the finish beam, Ireland could celebrate an outstanding fourth place finish and a team ticket to the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.
Sweden claimed a well-deserved team gold medal after finishing on a score of just 7.69. Netherlands took silver on 19.31 while Britain just pipped Ireland for bronze on 22.66. Ireland in fourth had a final score of 23.15, while Germany took the last Olympic qualifying place on a score of 24.76.
Ireland also has three riders qualified for Sunday’s World Championship individual final, with Denis Lynch in 19th, Cian O’Connor in 20th and Bertram Allen in 21st place.
“Obviously we are delighted to take an Olympic qualification place at the very first opportunity as it now gives us two full years to prepare for the Games,” Irish team manager Michael Blake said:
"It is slightly bittersweet as we came so close to winning a medal. It certainly was an exciting competition and all our guys fought hard to climb from ninth overall and finish in the top four. Congratulations to Sweden, The Netherlands and Britain on their medal wins and to Germany for also qualifying for Paris. None of this would be possible without the incredible owners we have, the grooms, and all those that put so much work into a successful result and I want to thank each and every one of them.”