Wednesday 29 January 2020

O'Connor keeps Ireland in medal hunt

Ireland is still in with a big chance of an individual medal. Stock photo
Ireland is still in with a big chance of an individual medal. Stock photo Sportsdesk

Despite dramatic elimination for Bertram Allen, Ireland moved up to joint bronze medal position with Belgium at the European Showjumping Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden where the hosts hold the whip hand ahead of Switzerland in the battle for team gold.

Lying fourth after Tuesday's opener, a brilliant clear from pathfinders Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z raised Irish hopes, but they were quickly dashed when 22-year-old Allen hit the deck in spectacular fashion when his fiery grey stallion, whose confidence appears to be severely dented, clambered wildly through the "Matchstick" oxer at fence 10 at their second attempt.

It seemed Denis Lynch and All Star could rein it back when clear all the way to the last, but the water-tray vertical that proved highly influential throughout the day hit the floor so, not for the first time, it was left to Cian O'Connor to retrieve the situation.

And Good Luck didn't desert him as the gelding soared around the tricky 14-fence track to pin the Irish running total at 12.11 faults ahead of tonight's medal-deciding round. "We had a misfortune with Bertram's ride, but that's what team-mates are for. Hopefully we will do better and we will keep fighting tomorrow!" O'Connor said.

The Belgians rocketed up from overnight eighth when posting four solid clear rounds and it's really close as the action resumes under lights tonight at the Ullevi Stadium, with Sweden heading Switzerland by less than three faults and the Irish and Belgians less than a single fault further behind.

And Ireland is still in with a big chance of an individual medal, with Sweetnam sixth on 2.1 penalty points and O'Connor in seventh (2.25).

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