Although it did come down to the last rider from each country, Ireland ended up emphatic winners of Friday night’s Nations’ Cup in Wellington, Florida, with Cian O’Connor sealing the victory with his second clear of the night on Seringat.
None of the other countries were able to match the Irish riders’ sheer persistence as they left only two poles on the floor all night. “All our four horses jumped great and it was a real team effort”, said O’Connor afterwards.
The Irish anchorman described the win as “another great victory which sets a solid platform for the Nations’ Cups in Europe this summer.”
Along with O’Connor, Paul O’Shea delivered an immense double-clear to give Chef d’Equipe Michael Blake his second four-star Nations’ Cup from two attempts.
At halfway Ireland shared the lead with Brazil on zero faults, both nations five faults clear of the American team.
Pathfinder Shane Sweetnam’s single time fault with Chaqui Z was the only blip of the first round, as O’Shea on Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu, Conor Swail on Rubens LS La Silla and O’Connor on Seringat rattled off three successive clears.
Sweetnam and Swail tipped a pole apiece second time out, but O’Shea’s second clear kept Ireland to the fore, setting it up for O’Connor and Seringat to be the clinchers once again as they had been two weeks ago at Ocala.
The American challenge had by then faded when Georgina Bloomberg failed to deliver a last-round clear, but Brazil could still have forced a tie if O’Connor had four faults and their last rider Eduardo Menezes could then post a clear with Quintol.
O’Connor however, settled the issue in style with another sumptuous clear, the third successive double-clear he has posted with Seringat in recent weeks.
It left Ireland on a total of four faults, nine clear of second-placed USA, and, as it turned out, 12 ahead of Brazil.