Updated: February 18, 2018
An impressive performance from the Irish Show Jumping team saw them take runner-up spot behind New Zealand, who won their first ever Longines FEI Nations Cup, in the very first five-star Longines FEI Nations Cup of the 2018 season at Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday.
Led by Chef d’Equipe Taylor Vard, Ireland were in a four-way tie for the lead at the halfway stage on just four faults along with Italy, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia. Tipperary’s Shane Breen with the stallion Laith and Derryman David Simpson with the 9-year-old stallion Keoki both jumped clear rounds first time out.
Mayo’s Cameron Hanley had just one fence down with Aiyetoro, while Limerick’s Paul Kennedy and Cartown Danger Mouse (ISH) were the discard score in the first round with 8 faults.
Hanley and Aiyetoro repeated their four fault score when first out for Ireland in the second round. Simpson and Keoki gave Ireland a huge boost with their second clear round, before Kennedy and Cartown Danger Mouse (ISH) improved on their first round score to come home with just four faults in the second round. Last to go, Breen and Laith were the second round discard score, with Ireland finishing on a two round total of 12 faults – the same score as New Zealand.
Ireland and New Zealand went head to head in a jump-off to decide the winners. Samantha McIntosh went first with Check In and posted a clear round. The Kiwis were crowned winners after Breen and Laith faulted at the third fence in the jump-off.
Italy took third place on the podium ahead of Switzerland who shared fourth place with Saudi Arabia and the home team from UAE. Saudi Arabia and UAE took the two qualifying places on offer for Arab Nations for the 2018 Longines FEI Jumping final in Barcelona.
Ireland’s David Simpson, however, took a half share in a special €50,000 bonus for those who jumped a double clear round. The only other pairing to jump double clear was Samantha McIntosh (NZL) with Check In.