Lennon clears way for Ireland victory

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The Independent Online

The Irish team recorded their first victory in the European Show Jumping Championships yesterday with a fine all-round performance that was brilliantly consolidated by their last rider Dermott Lennon.

Lennon, riding his Modena Grand Prix winner, Liscalgot, supplied the clear round that was needed for Ireland to defeat Sweden, Germany and The Netherlands.

Britain, who had never before finished lower than fourth, languished in ninth place. And there was further gloom with the news that Traxdata, the CD company that has been ploughing well over £1m a year into British show jumping, has been put into the hands of receivers.

Ireland's only other team medals in these biennial championships were collected back in 1979 when they finished third. Last year they had signalled their rise to prominence by winning ten Nations Cup contests.

Yesterday the Irish and the Swedes, who had never won a medal before, toppled mighty Germany, the Olympic and world champions and obvious favourites.

The four Irish riders ­ Kevin Babington, Jessica Kurten, Peter Charles and Lennon ­ clearly have the horsepower that the British lack.

The writing was already on the wall for Britain after Thursday's first leg and there was very little to raise hopes for the future in yesterday's two-round contest, in which Di Lampard and Abbervail Dream had the best British total of 12 faults.

Lampard, at 21st, will be the only Briton in tomorrow's individual final, in which the Dutchman Wout-Jan Van Der Schans holds a minuscule lead of 0.07 of faults over Germany's Ludger Beerbaum, with Ireland's Lennon close behind in third place.

Scott Smith, the 26-year-old newcomer to the British team, will have learnt from his experiences here. He rode positively on Cabri d'Elle, who has the scope to improve. Michael Whitaker's Prince of Wales looked to have reached his limit, while Mark Armstrong's Elise, who is still inexperienced at nine, could prove a better mare in future.