Ireland took their first victory in the 2012 Nations Cup Series at Hickstead with a classy display of horsemanship that left just four faults on the team card at the end of two rounds.
US-based Kilkenny native Richie Moloney spearheaded the Irish attack with a double clear on Ahorn van de Zuithoeve in their first ever Superleague competition, but clear rounds also came from Sligo’s Darragh Kerins on the Irish Sport Horse Lisona, and Tipperary rider Shane Breen on the team’s other Irish Sport Horse, Cos I Can.
Clones rider Clem McMahon caused Irish hopes to drop when he retired in the first round with the eight year-old Pacino, but then stormed back as the team’s final rider in the second round with a winning zero score.
France took the runner-up spot at Hickstead on eight faults, while favourites Germany finished third on 12. Ireland last won the Hickstead Nations’ Cup in 2001.
Team Ireland’s show jumping manager Robert Splaine said: “We needed a big result here today, and we certainly got one. It’s a great boost also to win in England, with the traditional rivalry that exists, and it also balances out the bits of misfortune we encountered earlier in the series.
“I’m very grateful to all the owners, and especially the ones who let their horses cross the Atlantic for this.
“I have to say that this result today proves that we’re as good as anyone in the world, and now is the time to get behind the two riders we’re sending to the London Olympics, where I’m sure they will do the business and bring further prestige to Ireland.”
The 2012 Nations Cup Superleague finishes in Dublin in August.