Irish struggles a concern for Splaine ahead of Aga Khan homecoming
In stark contrast to the superb win in Aachen two weeks ago, the Irish team struggled into sixth place in the Meydan FEI Nations Cup at Hickstead yesterday.
Chef d'Equipe Robert Splaine will be hoping for a stronger result on home turf when the Aga Khan Cup ends the eight-leg superleague series at the Failte Ireland Dublin Horse Show next Friday.
The tough Hickstead track was the real winner and the British team, which included former Irish rider Peter Charles, were the only ones truly capable of mastering it; they claimed the honours by a massive 15-point margin.
Ireland were carrying 26 faults at the end of the first round, including 12 from pathfinder Shane Breen (Carmena Z) and Denis Lynch (Nabab's Son). Dermott Lennon picked up eight with Hallmark Elite and Billy Twomey produced the best result with just five from the stallion Je T'Aime Flamenco.
The second round was a horror-story for Lennon, however, when both he and his horse took a fall at the wide Hickstead water jump. Hallmark Elite set sail a long way in front of the take-off point and, landing midway in the water, came crashing down on the landing side.
Both horse and rider appeared unhurt leaving the ring. The fall is not good news for Splaine ahead of next week's clash: the Banbridge man and Woods Rosbotham's gelding have been selected for the squad.
Breen collected five more faults second time out but Twomey picked up just one time fault and Lynch was clear to leave Ireland on a total of 36.
The finish demotes Ireland from third to fifth on the 10-nation series leaderboard but they remain clear of the bottom-four relegation zone.