Three of the Irish show jumping team who finished third at the Nations Cup in La Baule, France last week have been retained for the Rome leg of the league by Irish team manager Rodrigo Pessoa, who named his squad today.

Meanwhile Jumping Development Team manager Michael Blake has shuffled the deck completely for his choice of squad who will contend the Division Two team competition at Lisbon in Portugal.

Rome will see new combinations in the shape of 23 year-old Paul Kennedy with the 11 year-old mare Cartown Danger Mouse and 30 year-old Mark McAuley aboard the nine year-old gelding Utchan De Belheme. McAuley and his gelding helped Ireland win last week’s Division Two contest at Drammen and have been moved up a class this week by Pessoa.

The remaining three squad slots are filled by those who saw action in the first points-scoring leg of the FEI league at La Baule, and are:

Shane Breen riding the 12-year-old stallion Golden Hawk
Michael Duffy with the 11-year-old gelding Belcanto Z
Shane Sweetnam riding the 11-year-old stallion Chaqui Z

Four of those named will be chosen for the team before Friday’s competition at the picturesque outdoor Piazza di Siena arena in Rome’s central Villa Borghese park next week.

Paul Kennedy and Cartown Danger Mouse. (Photo: Shamela Hanley)

The Brazilian-born team manager said after announcing his squad: “We are fielding a strong team in Rome and we hope to continue the good momentum from La Baule where we made a good start. We have high hopes for the Italian Nations Cup.

“We are again testing some combinations for the second time and the picture for the rest of the season will become a little clearer after the next competition, which we are looking forward to.”

Following the Rome Nations Cup on May 26th, Ireland will move on to the remaining Division One competitions at Rotterdam in the Netherlands (June 23rd), Falsterbo in Sweden (July 14th), Hickstead in England (July 28th), and on August 11, the Aga Khan Trophy at the RDS in Dublin.

Pessoa is still without the services of Olympic bronze medallist Cian O’Connor, who sustained a groin injury at the three-star show in Eschweiler in Germany at the end of April, but hopes are high that he will be riding fit in time for Rotterdam.

Michael Blake, who saw his choice of riders and horses take a well-received but hard-fought victory at Drammen in Norway last week, will be hoping to repeat his Division Two Nations Cup success at Lisbon, also on Friday, May 26th.

His squad is:
Greg Broderick with Charmeur
Derek McCoppin with Zaire
Sophie Dalm with Remake Lande
Dermott Lennon with Fleur IV
Michael Pender with Can Ya Makan
David Simpson with Keoki

Blake said today: “ We have four very experienced riders in the squad, some with young but very promising horses and two riders (Derek McCoppin and Sophie Dalm) making their debut on an Irish Nations Cup squad. We will be hoping for another good result in Lisbon on the back of our win in Drammen.”

FEItv will provide livestream coverage of both competitions on Friday May 26th. The Rome Division One Nations Cup begins at 1:30pm Irish time, while the Lisbon Cup starts at 8pm.

Jack Burns