Ireland has been drawn last to jump of the seven teams competing for the Hickstead Nations Cup in Britain on Sunday, and Irish Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa has announced his team of four, who will line out as follows:
Trevor Breen – Bombay
Richie Moloney – Freestyle de Muze
Michael Duffy – EFS Top Contender
Anthony Condon – SFS Aristio
Hickstead is the penultimate points-scoring venue for Ireland, with just the Dublin Aga Khan competition in August left in the calendar, and Pessoa will be reasonably confident that performances at these last two Nations Cups will ensure that there’ll be an Irish presence at the Nations Cup Final at Barcelona in October.
However, with the World Equestrian Games at Tryon in the USA coming up fast in September, it’s likely that Pessoa – who guided Ireland to team European Gold last year – will be directing most of his immediate attention towards the American contest, where a stellar performance could provide Ireland with its qualifying slot for the 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo.
The Brazilian-born team manager will be keen to avoid the disappointment that followed Ireland’s failure to qualify a show jumping team at the last three Olympic Games, for failure to secure a spot at Tokyo would result in a demoralising 16 year absence from the world’s top equestrian tournament.
The Hickstead Nations Cup is scheduled to start at 2:15pm Irish time, and Ireland will be preceded into the historic arena by teams from Belgium, Brazil, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy and Great Britain.
UPDATE: Ireland won the Hickstead Nations Cup after a nail-biting jump-off with Great Britain