A spectacular first round from Rodrigo Pessoa’s Irish Nations Cup team at today’s Rotterdam competition left them on a zero score and a shared first place at half-time, but a disappointing second round dropped the quartet well down the leaderboard.

Only Shane Breen and Golden Hawk failed to return a fault-free first round, leaving them as the discard score, but eight faults in the second round from the same combination set the tone for a decline in Irish fortunes.

Darragh Kenny and Charly Chapin S could not repeat their impressive first round clear, attracting eight faults second time out, but although Bertram Allen and Hector Van d’Abdijhoeve lifted Irish spirits with a sparkling double clear, anchorman Cian O’Connor and Good Luck, who had come home with an effortless clear in the first round, also had eight faults, bringing the Irish total to 16 overall.

With eight of the 15 fences on the course being raised for the second round, many riders failed to repeat their first round performances, and the leaderboard changed dramatically, with Sweden keeping the cleanest sheet with four faults and claiming the Rotterdam Cup.

Ireland finished on 16 faults, just enough to share fifth place with Germany and the Netherlands, and one fence ahead of eighth-placed Belgium, who had 20 penalties at the end of play.

Irish Show Jumping manager Rodrigo Pessoa said after the competition: “Hopefully this will be our discard score in the league. We still have three very important points-scoring rounds to come, with some new horses to try out. Good results in those rounds will put us in a strong position on the league table and our big goal for this year, which is the European Championships.”

Jack Burns