Ireland’s Dressage team finished sixth of the seven competing nations on the first day of the Lambertz Nations Cup at CHIO Aachen yesterday, and it was a heart-warming and encouraging result for the newly-formed side.
The pure joy on Anna (Petezy) Merveldt’s face when she steered her 10-year-old Lusitano, Esporim, to a score of 69.283 in the opening Grand Prix was there for all to see – a reminder that this sport can be so much fun as well as hugely demanding. Although Anna is a double-Olympian, her horse is a relative novice, so no wonder she was smiling from ear to ear on a day when very few of the very best horse-and-rider combinations in the world were absent from the start-list.
Then three-time Olympian and 12-time National Champion, Heike Holstein who also hails from Kildare, put 69.565 on the board with her home-bred mare Sambuca who has been showing huge promise in recent months.
Finally Ireland’s top-ranked pair, Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K (JP to his friends), posted 74.043 to round the combined Irish score up to 212.891, just over a single point ahead of Spain and 11 points behind Team GBR who finished fifth on 223.630.
Germany topped the leaderboard ahead of Denmark, USA and Sweden in second, third and fourth places. The team competition concludes tomorrow (Saturday 20 July) with the Grand Prix Special when the Girls in Green will be hoping to continue their all-important preparation for next month’s FEI European Championships in Rotterdam NED.
Last night the Boys in Green finished fourth in the Mercedes Benz Nations Cup Jumping won by Sweden.
There was a five-way tie for the lead at the halfway stage between The Netherlands, France, Sweden, Belgium and Ireland who had all racked up four faults. And when Shane Sweetnam and his 2017 European gold-medal-winning ride Chaqui Z kicked off the second round with a clear then Irish hopes were high.
But both Peter Moloney (Chianti’s Champion) and Darragh Kenny (Important de Muze) each had a fence down, so when Cian O’Connor withdrew Irenice Horta then the final Irish tally of 12 dropped them behind the French who slotted into third with eight.
Carrying five faults the Germans looked set to win but they had to settle for runner-up spot when Swedish anchorman Peder Fredricson snatched victory from their grasp with a brilliant clear from Christian K.
Lots more action before the amazing CHIO Aachen concludes on Sunday 21 July