With the lead position changing multiple times, today’s FEI Nations Cup Final at Barcelona fulfilled its promise of thrills and tension.

With the world’s top eight teams and some of the sport’s most talented riders and horses bidding for a share of the 1.2m euro prize pot and the prestigious Longines Nations Cup trophy, surprises came thick and fast, with the last line of fences catching out more than its fair share of seasoned campaigners.

At the end, an eight fault round from Lorenzo de Luca with Ensor de Litrange LXII unexpectedly dropped leaders Italy to fourth place, giving the trophy to Belgium on 12 faults, with France and Ireland close behind on 16 faults apiece.

Time proved a vital aspect of the final score, with four teams tying on 16 faults, but France and Ireland proved fractionally fastest overall and so claimed second and third places respectively.

Irish Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa said later: “We are pretty pleased, we came close to doing something really special. Clear rounds were hard to come by and we came close to forcing a jump-off but in the end we have to be satisfied with finishing third. Many times this year we have come close without finishing the job. We have to now reflect on those fences we had down which are the ones that prove costly. All-in-all, the season has been a good one although the World Games in Tryon was of course disappointing. But overall we have introduced a lot of new horses and riders to our squad which will be really good for the future.”

Ireland’s scores on Sunday’s final round were:
Billy Twomey – Kimba Flamenco: 4 faults
Anthony Condon – SFS Aristio: 4 faults
Michael G. Duffy– Lapuccino 2: 8 faults
Darragh Kenny – Balou du Reventon: 8 faults

-Jack Burns