A strong performance from the GAIN Horse Feeds Irish Pony Eventing team at the European Championships at Aarhus in Denmark, saw them miss out on a medal by the slimmest of margins when finishing fourth, while Ireland’s Zara Nelson also finished fourth on the individual standings.
The Irish quartet of Zara Nelson (Millridge Buachaill Bui (ISH), Hannah Adams (Mr Blueskies), Jim Tyrrell (Fiona’s Fionn) and Sophie Foyle (Little Miss Fernhill (ISH)(TIH), were in eighth place after the opening Dressage phase, moving up two places to sixth after Cross Country. The final Show Jumping phase saw Ireland move up another two places to fourth, missing out on the bronze medal by less than eight penalties. Germany took the team gold ahead of Britain in second and France in third.
Zara Nelson (far right) and Millridge Buachaill Bui (ISH) were the stand-out Irish performers on the individual rankings, finishing less than four penalties off the bronze medal position. Horse Sport Ireland’s High Performance Pony Eventing Manager, Becky Cullen said: “It was a great performance. We are of course disappointed to miss out on a team medal by just 8 faults, but for a relatively inexperienced team this was a fantastic achievement.
“What I am most proud of is that all of our riders were on home produced ponies. Zara Nelson did fantastically well to finish fourth – carrying a lot of pressure to repeat her bronze medal performance from last year.
Individual rider Jennifer Keunhle won the prize for the best Show Jumping round of the Eventing competition and overall we had a great team spirit here with all of the Irish teams. Our Dressage riders all came to support us during the Cross Country and we were cheering on our Show Jumpers as soon as we were finished and we are already planning for next year.”
In the Show Jumping European Championships at the same venue, the GAIN Horse Feeds Irish pony team of Adam Carey (Stakkati), Abbie Sweetnam (Dynamite Spartacus), Harry Allen (Aughnashammer) and Jason Foley with More Clover (ISH), finished fifth of 11 teams in Friday’s team competition.
Abbie Sweetnam and Adam Carey also qualified for Sunday’s individual final, with both riders finishing inside the top 20.
Horse Sport Ireland Pony Show Jumping Team Manager Gary Marshall said: “This really was an unbelievable Championships with a lot of changes to the leaderboard.
Two of our team had never been to a championship before and overall I am very happy with them all. You need a very special pony for this level and I think this week has certainly given us something to build on.”
Irish Dressage Pony riders riders also produced impressive performances at the Championships. Emily-Kate Robinson (left) finished best of the Irish in the individual standings, taking 24th place with Crown Imagine, while there were also good displays by Laura Dennehy with Ella and Tara Hayes with Bantiss Holy Joe.
Horse Sport Ireland’s Dressage Pony High Performance Manager Anne Marie Dunphy said: “All our team were making their Championship debut and we were very pleased with the comments from the judges on the correctness of our riders and the continued improvements that the Irish team is making.
“A lot of work has been done through the Horse Sport Ireland High Performance Programme which has enabled us to put the wheels in motion and we are making very good progress.”
Photo credit: Helen Revington