Irish Show Jumping team power to victory in Aachen Nations Cup with flawless performance

(l-r) Cian O’Connor, Shane Sweetnam, Michael Blake (team manager) Bertram Allen and Denis Lynch celebrate after victory for Ireland in the Aachen Nations Cup (Photo: Pam Cunningham)

For the sixth time in its 95-year history and the first time since 2010, the Irish Show Jumping team won the world famous five-star Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup of Aachen in Germany on Thursday night.

It was a dominant performance from the Irish who were the only team to finish on a zero score and is another huge boost for Michael Blake’s in-form squad just a few weeks out from the Show Jumping competitions at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Tipperary’s Denis Lynch got the competition underway as first to jump with the 11-year-old stallion Vistogrand. They lowered the very first fence however they kept their composure to finish the round with just four faults. In fact, that first fence for Lynch would be the only pole to fall for the Irish team in the competition. Wexford’s Bertram Allen with the Simon Scott-bred Pacino Amiro (ISH), Cork’s Shane Sweetnam with the Patrick Connolly-bred CSF James Kann Cruz (ISH) and Meath’s Cian O’Connor (Fancy De Kergane) all produced flawless first round displays. That left Ireland in a five-way share of the lead at the halfway stage on a zero score, along with Sweden, The Netherlands, Britain and Mexico.

The second jumped under floodlights round saw Ireland forge ahead of the pack. Denis Lynch delivered a perfect clear and when Bertram Allen and Shane Sweetnam completed double clear performances with their two Irish-bred horses, Ireland were assured of victory without the need for anchor rider Cian O’Connor to jump. Mexico finished as runners-up on four faults just ahead of Britain in third. Belgium filled fourth place ahead of Sweden in fifth, while the home team from Germany had to settle for sixth.

Speaking after his team’s victory, a delighted team manager Michael Blake said:

“We wanted to bring the best team we could here and do the best we can, and thankfully things really went our way tonight. Congratulations to the Mexican and British teams who pushed us all the way to the line. We are really delighted. The crowd here in Aachen is absolutely unbelievable. They are so knowledgeable – they know their sport and we hope we know a little bit about it too. I would like to say this is a bit like our home show now so maybe we will come back next year again and see what we can do. This show [Aachen] and Dublin – the crowds are so big and so knowledgeable, its just phenomenal.”

Pacino Amiro (ISH) – 2012 gelding by Pacino (BWP) out of Carnone Dancing Queen (ISH) by NC Amiro (AES). Breeder: Simon Scott, Co. Donegal. Owner: Ballywalter Stables. Rider: Bertram Allen (IRL).

CSF James Kann Cruz (ISH) – 2013 gelding by Kannan (KWPN) out of CSF Telly Cruz (ISH) by Cruising (ISH)[TIH]. Breeder: Patrick Connolly. Owner: Gizmo Partners LLC. Rider: Shane Sweetnam (IRL)