Rodrigo Pessoa’s first competitive team notched up a fine third placing in this afternoon’s Nations Cup of France at La Baule’s new-look Francois Andre arena.

The haul of eighty points represents a good start to the league campaign as Ireland bid to maintain their standing in Europe’s elite division.

After Denis Lynch and All Star had opened with five faults, Shane Breen stepped in to deliver a sumptuous clear on Golden Hawk to show that the Irish meant business. Next in for Ireland was Michael Duffy who looked to have pulled off another zero score with Belcanto Z but the pairing took just too long to get home and collected one time fault. Anchorman Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z also seemed on course for a clear until a pole tumbled at the very last fence and a time fault ensued as well.

It left Pessoa’s team in fifth at halfway, but well in touch on only six faults.

Lynch started the second round ominously with an early pole down but stayed steady to leave everything else intact within the time, before Breen once again followed with a clear to keep Ireland very much in the hunt.

Duffy’s second round was progressing nicely until the third-last when Belcanto Z, just failed to clear the water, and Shane Sweetnam completed for the Irish team with a pole down and a time fault. With Belgium and Switzerland failing to maintain their first round positions, Ireland were now alone in third place, with only France and Sweden, level on eight faults, above them.

The French did well to rally after Roger-Yves Bost had been eliminated in the first round following a nasty fall with Sangria du Coty, and although horse and rider appeared to be uninjured, they didn’t jump in the second round. Undaunted, the hosts managed to reel in first round leaders Sweden, and both countries went into a jump off which France won with a clear by Kevin Staut on Reveur de Hurtebise.

Josh Tobin