Ireland sit in tenth position after the opening day of the show jumping competition at the World Equestrian Games in North Carolina today.

It puts Rodrigo Pessoa’s team right on the cut mark for Friday’s final and means tomorrow’s second phase is set to be a tense affair.

The Irish were unable to capitalise on a brilliant start when Shane Sweetnam came home clear and posted a fast time on Chaqui Z having been tasked with being the first to test the championship course. Though there were 123 riders to follow, only 14 bettered his time in the faults-added contest.

Shane Breen had one pole down with Ipswich van de Wolfsakker as did Paul O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu whose only mistake came at the first fence. Team anchor Cian O’Connor was clear until the third last on Good Luck but the four faults were softened by a fast time.

Ireland are by no means too far adrift in tenth, being just a fence off the bronze position but conversely they are less than a fence ahead of the next six teams below them, leaving a lot to be played for tomorrow.

Switzerland, Netherlands and Brazil occupy the team medal positions.

In the individual standings Shane Sweetnam is best of the Irish in 15th, 1.93 penalties behind leader Steve Guerdat of Switzerland who snatched top spot late in the day on Bianca to lead with a zero-penalty score. Cian O’Connor is in 23rd on 2.69 penalties, while Shane Breen and Paul O’Shea are by no means out of the individual medals on 5.50 and 5.96 respective penalties.

Ireland have been drawn second in the team order for Thursday after Belgium.

Mark Sommer