Ireland’s squad for the Aga Khan Trophy, which will take place next week in Dublin, has been announced by Team Manager Rodrigo Pessoa.
The five, from whom a team of four will be announced the day before Friday’s Irish Nations Cup clash, are:
Bertram Allen with Molly Malone V
Mark McAuley with Miebello
Shane Breen with Golden Hawk
Cian O’Connor with Good Luck
Denis Lynch with RMF Echo
Brazilian-born Pessoa has been faced with a juggling act involving team priorities in the run-up to the Dublin show – how to qualify for the Nations Cup final in Barcelona in September while still holding enough horsepower in reserve to do well at the high-profile European Show Jumping Championships to be held in Sweden in two weeks’ time.
He said today: “Obviously Dublin is very important for us. We haven’t won a Nations Cup so far this year. We have been close on a few occasions but if we are to win just one this year our home Nations Cup would be the perfect place to do it.”
“Of course we have our main objective for the season at the European Championships coming two weeks after Dublin and we are saving some combinations for that but I am happy that we have a strong squad for Dublin and we will not be taking the competition lightly.”
Alongside US-based Shane Sweetnam, Lynch, O’Connor and Allen have already been named as Ireland’s team for the European championships, though only O’Connor will ride the same horse – Good Luck – at both Dublin and Gothenburg. McAuley has been selected as fifth man for the championships.
Eight nations will compete for Nations Cup points at Dublin, and although Ireland now seems more likely than not to qualify as one of the top seven teams who will appear at the Barcelona final, a major upset in the Aga Khan finishing order on Friday could scupper those hopes.
Ireland’s last win at the Dublin Nations Cup was in 2015, when the team was Greg Broderick, Darragh Kenny, Bertram Allen and Cian O’Connor.