Mark McAuley from Co. Louth was the best of the Irish at tonight’s Longines World Cup competition in Madrid, Spain, finishing third on the 13 year-old grey gelding Miebello after a big 18 horse jump-off.

All three Irish competitors made it through to the second round on zero scores, with Cameron Hanley and the eight year-old Quirex and European team gold medallist Denis Lynch on the bay stallion All Star also making the cut.

Thirty year-old McAuley was first of the Irish contingent to go in the jump-off and went into the lead with a blistering time of 42.68 seconds. However, he was eventually overtaken by France’s Olympic team gold medallist Roger-Yves Bost and the 11 year-old mare Sydney Une Prince, who also went clear and stopped the clock in 42.23 seconds.

Second Irish rider to jump, Cameron Hanley, had one fence down for four faults, and finished in 15th place overall.

Shortly afterwards, Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels and the mare Cas de Liberte shaved a hundredth of a second off McAuley’s time to nudge the Irish combination down to third place, while Denis Lynch, last to jump, had the misfortune to see the last fence fall, which put him into 13th overall.

McAuley, who won the Lyon Grand Prix earlier this month with Miebello, now moves into fourth place in the Longines/FEI Western European League standings, which puts him in a good position to qualify for the April World Cup Final in Paris, even though there are still seven legs of the series to go.

The Irish rider also picked up 23,250 euro in prize money for his third place tonight in Madrid.

Jack Burns