Despite a superb double clear round from Cork’s Billy Twomey as anchorman, the Irish team at the Nations’ Cup in Rome yesterday suffered a series of mishaps that ultimately left them in ninth place overall.
Though US-based Shane Sweetnam and Amaretto Darco raised Irish hopes with an opening clear round, second man in Niall Talbot had a refusal and then a heavy fall at a combination fence with Nicos de la Cense, which eliminated them from continuing.
Cian O’Connor and Blue Loyd had a mishap at the water jump which seemed to unsettle horse and rider for the rest of the round, with an uncharacteristic 20 faults accumulating.
Twomey and Tinka’s Serenade restored confidence with a zero score on his first outing, which he then repeated in the second round.
However, with no discard score now available to the Irish after Talbot’s injuries, which prevented him starting in the second round, two mistakes from Sweetnam and a recovery by O’Connor with just one fence down could not bring the team back into contention.
An in-form German team won the Rome Nations’ Cup on a total of four faults against Ireland’s 32.
Team Ireland Equestrian’s show jumping manager Robert Splaine said: “We really needed a clean slate in the second round to recover, but that didn’t happen. Our backs were really to the wall after Niall Talbot’s fall, for at this level it is almost impossible to stay in serious contention with just three men.
“Cian O’Connor and Blue Loyd are a relatively new combination and a mistake at the water did seem to unsettle them for the rest of the round, though they made an excellent recovery second time out. The highlight was undoubtedly Billy Twomey’s double clear round, but unfortunately it was just not enough to pull us up the leaderboard.”
The FEI Nations’ Cup series now continues at St Gallen (SUI), 31 May-2 June; Rotterdam (NED) 20-24 June; Aachen (GER) 3-8 July; Falsterbo (SWE) 12-15 July; Hickstead (GBR) 19-22 July; Dublin (IRL) 15-19 August.