Ireland’s Bertram Allen and Molly Malone V will be first into the arena in tomorrow afternoon’s Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup at Hickstead. Manager Robert Splaine has chosen Allen as pathfinder in a team that includes Billy Twomey on Diaghilev, Anthony Condon with Aristio, and anchorman Shane Breen riding Golden Hawk. The Irish will be first to go in the competition which gets underway at 2.15pm.

Tomorrow’s contest is the final qualifier for this year’s Nations Cup Final, but not for Ireland, who completed their qualifying campaign at Dublin last week and have safely made the cut.

It won’t mean that the Irish will be any less competitive, but it certainly carries less pressure than the Dublin leg last week. “Ireland has performed well and it’s great that we don’t have any qualification or relegation issues”, Splaine told We Live Horse this evening  “However Hickstead is Furusiyya league with eight of the world’s  top Nations competing so naturally this is very important to us.”

Italy, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland are the teams for whom this event is a qualifier, and the eight-team contest also includes teams from the USA and the Netherlands.

Although Ireland won’t be collecting any league points tomorrow, their performance will still have a bearing on the league standings of their rivals, since the five countries competing for points will only be rewarded for their placing among the whole field of eight nations competing at Hickstead. “We hope to do well and I am very aware that a good performance by us can have a huge affect on other countries’ future plans”, said the Irish manager.

Ireland are currently second in the ten-team Europe Division 1 (see table below) and are guaranteed to finish at least fourth, well above the seventh place required to get to the Final, which takes place in Barcelona in September.

Ireland, Netherlands and Sweden are the only teams in the division that have already secured qualification for Barcelona, which leaves four places to be decided tomorrow. Switzerland look safe enough, and would top the league if they win tomorrow, but Great Britain, Germany, Belgium and Italy all have work to do.

France, who finished their qualifying campaign with a disappointing showing in Dublin last week, are not involved tomorrow and can only look on anxiously to see how the placings work out.

Qualifiers from Ireland’s division will compete against qualifiers from other divisions of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup series worldwide in the Barcelona Final. Mike Dunne.

Current Standings Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Europe Division 1

Country                 Points                               Events left

1. Netherlands    335.00     qualified        0
2. Ireland              323.33     qualified          0
3. Sweden             305.00    qualified          0
4. France               265.00                                  0
5. Switzerland     245.00                               Hickstead
6. Great Britain   200.00                              Hickstead
7. Italy                    147.50                                 Hickstead +
8. Germany           135.00                               Hickstead +
9. Czech Rep        180.00                               0
10. Belgium          100.00                               Hickstead +

Teams with a + symbol will have their total league points boosted by a factor of one-third after the points earned on the day at Hickstead have been added to their total shown above. That is because one of their qualifiers (Lummen) was cancelled due to bad weather. Ireland and Sweden were also affected by that cancellation, but their Lummen allocation has already been added since their qualifying campaign is completed.

Scoring per Nations Cup event: 1st place 100; 2nd 90; 3rd 80; 4th 70; 5th 60; 6th 55; 7th 50; 8th 45. In the event of a tie for places, points are split proportionately.