Ireland claimed tonight’s four-star Nations’ Cup in Ocala, Florida, with Cian O’Connor clinching the victory when producing his second clear round of the contest as last rider to jump.

O’Connor’s second clear on Seringat denied the USA a chance of victory, after their final rider Beezie Madden had also produced a double-clear to keep alive hopes of a home victory.

Shane Sweetnam had given Ireland the perfect start when going clear as first rider into the arena on board Chaqui Z. Kevin Babington then had four faults on Shorapur, before Richie Moloney picked up twelve with Carrabis Z.

Anchorman O’Connor then produced the first of his two clear rounds, keeping Ireland’s tally to four at halfway, four better than Mexico and the USA who shared second place on eight.

Sweetnam went close to a repeat of his opening clear but ended with four faults second time out, with Babington also coming home with four. The drop-score was once again produced by Richie Moloney and Carrabis Z who again had twelve faults.

With one rider left for each country, Ireland were edging it by four faults from the American team whose hopes were then raised when Beezie Madden and Brietling LS came home in the clear.

However the Irish anchorman gave nothing away to leave Michael Blake’s team alone on twelve faults, four better than the USA, with Canada further back in third on twenty-four.

“There is always something special to win as a team and it always surpasses an individual win and I know that’s the view of all our riders”, said O’Connor tonight.

“All the lads worked great together and supported each other. Conor Swail was also on hand to help each of us and give advice as well as Michael Blake who has put in years of work behind the scenes resulting in many top performances from junior and young rider teams.

“A win always gives a great boost and should augur well for many good days to come this season for the Irish team.”

Mike Dunne

CSIO4* Ocala, Florida
Nations’ Cup
1. Ireland 12
2. USA 16
3. Canada 24
4. Mexico 28
5. Colombia 52
6. El Salvador elim
7. Venezuela elim

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