FINISHES at major competitions are often called dramatic, but the word was more than valid at the RDS in Dublin today when Ireland and Italy were forced into a jump-off for the famous Aga Khan trophy.

Ireland had every reason to be confident of victory, fielding one of the strongest teams of riders and horses in recent memory, but Nations’ Cups frequently produce unexpected results.

This was the case today, with the Irish quartet of Denis Lynch, Olympic nominee Greg Broderick, World number nine rider Bertram Allen and Olympic Bronze medallist Cian O’Connor finding themselves in a jump-off against 25/1 outsiders Italy at the end of two rounds.

Though Ireland’s performance was one of the best seen in Dublin, with only Bertram Allen racking up eight jumping faults in the first round and Denis Lynch incurring a single time fault in the second, Ireland faced similar zero scores from both the USA and Italy at the halfway point.

Despite one retirement in the first round from Bruno Chimirri and Tower Mouche and eight faults from Emilio Bicocchi and Ares in the second, the Italians pulled ahead of the USA and challenged Ireland for the top spot when anchorman Cian O’Connor and Good Luck wrapped up the Irish team effort with a double clear round.

Chimirri was Italy’s last man in, but improved to achieve a faultless round, now leaving both teams on zero.

In the obligatory jump-off Denis Lynch and the athletic All Star went in first, and though delivering a scorching time right up to the last fence, found themselves in trouble when All Star ran out, incurring four faults and two time penalties.

The Italian Piergiorgio Bucci and Catalo Z now had to produce simply a careful clear round, which they did to clinch the contest.

The second place for Ireland does, though, guarantee them a place at September’s Furusiyya Nations’ Cup Final at Barcelona.

Irish team scores:

Denis Lynch/All Star 0/1/6 (Jump Off)
Greg Broderick/MHS Going Global 0/0
Bertram Allen/Hector van d’Abdijhoeve 8/0
Cian O’Connor/Good Luck 0/0