Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z will be Ireland’s pathfinders in tomorrow’s Nations Cup at the Piazza Di Siena in Rome.
Manager Rodrigo Pessoa named his team of four this afternoon, having had to plan without Michael Duffy whose horse Belcanto Z had to be withdrawn from the squad after a change of ownership.
Second into the arena for Ireland will be Paul Kennedy and Cartown Danger Mouse, to be followed by Mark McAuley with Utchan De Belheme and anchorman Shane Breen on Golden Hawk.
After naming his team Pessoa thanked fifth member Thomas Ryan for making the trip to Rome with Quite Zero in a late call up following the withdrawal of Belcanto Z.
Ireland have been drawn fifth of the eight nations, with Canada first to test the arena.
Breen and Golden Hawk were the stars in France two weeks ago when completing a double-clear that helped secure a third-place finish.
Of the nations taking part, Ireland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden are competing for points, with Canada and Switzerland completing the line-up.
The Irish are currently in fifth place in the eight-team Division 1 league, but have a round ‘in-hand’ over the teams above them.
While Ireland have never tasted victory in Rome, it has been a long time since the Italians themselves won their own nations cup. They have named a strong team featuring three of the riders who won last year’s Aga Khan at Dublin Horse Show.
Their manager Roberto Arioldi feels it will be a very competitive afternoon. “I think the gap between one team and the other in terms of penalties will be minimal”, he says. “We have to fight to the end.”