Michael Blake, Ireland’s show jumping development team manager, has this evening announced his four riders and horses who will compete in the Nations Cup at Sopot in Poland on Friday afternoon.
In jumping order, the team will be:
Capt. Geoff Curran and Ringwood Glen
Paul Kennedy with Cartown Danger Mouse
Bertram Allen and Izzy By Picobello
Cian O’Connor with Callisto
For O’Connor, who finished fourth today at Sopot in the Grand Prix Qualifier with Cybel, it will be his first Nations Cup outing after a six week lay-off due to an injury, though he showed an impressive return to form with a fourth place in the Wiesbaden Grand Prix last week.
Allen, likewise, seems back on target after a short fallow period, winning the St. Gallen Grand Prix last week, while Kennedy has already distinguished himself at the Rome Nations Cup. Curran helped Ireland win the three-star Nations Cup of Norway at Drammen last month with a decisive finishing four fault round.
Blake, who celebrates his birthday on the day of the competition, said afterwards: “Once again there are some really strong teams in this Nations Cup from both sides of the Atlantic. We know what we have to do – we equally have a strong team here ourselves and we will be going all out for a good result. We want to thank all the riders and owners for making themselves available. This kind of support makes my job much easier.”
Because Sopot is an FEI Division Two Nations Cup, Ireland will not be eligible for points, but there is little doubt that Ireland’s overall Team Manager Rodrigo Pessoa is getting Blake to test a combination composed of two team veterans – O’Connor and Allen – along with the less experienced five-star riders Curran and Kennedy, with a view to deciding on his squad at Rotterdam later this month, where vital points will indeed be up for grabs.
The competition is scheduled to start at 1:30pm Irish time, and Ireland is drawn first to jump.