For the second successive week Mark McAuley netted the best result by an Irish rider in a Grand Prix when claiming fourth in Sunday’s five-star contest in Rome.
Riding Miebello, with whom he finished second in the four-star Grand Prix at Bourg-en-Bresse a week ago, McAuley was the only Irish rider to advance to today’s 12-way decider.
Only ten riders carried forward zero faults and only Jur Vrieling of the Netherlands had posted a second clear by the time McAuley, as second-last to go, entered the arena.
Vrieling’s 50.32 had been bettered several times but no one had left everything up, Alerto Zorzi getting closest when clear until the last fence and clocking 45.92 with Fair Light van’t Heike.
McAuley’s pace was quick too and although he didn’t quite survive to the last he got most of the way home before four faults ended his hopes of winning but gave him a very respectable fourth.
Vrieling remained the only double-clear, with Zorzi second and Lorenzo De Luca (Ensor de Litrange Lxii) taking third.
Miebello was bought by McAuley’s girlfriend, Swedish rider Charlotte Mordasini, early last year and the Swiss-based Irish rider has only been riding the 13 year-old gelding of late while Mordasini recovers from a fall.
It added another notch to a good two-week spell for McAuley, who was a member of the Irish team which won the Division 2 Nations Cup in Norway two weeks ago, and who made his debut on the Irish team which came joint-third in Friday’s Division 1 Nations Cup of Italy, riding Utchan De Belheme on both occasions.
Thomas Ryan and Quite Zero missed the jump-off today with one down in round one, but had the consolation of Saturday’s fourth in the 1m55 jump-off class in which Shane Sweetnam took third with Main Road.
Sweetnam came second today with Indra van de Oude Heihoef in the Accumulator, unable to catch the Italian pairing of Govanni Govoni and Larbraker who were one and a quarter seconds faster.