Ireland celebrate Nations Cup win

Equestrianism
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The Independent Online
Ireland repeated the message that was delivered to the British team at Aachen when they won yesterday's Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse Show, finishing with just 0.25 of a fault in hand.

The Irish might, however, have extended the winning margin had Eddie Macken jumped a second time. He had a wonderful clear on Miss FAN in the first round, but there was no need for him to reappear. The Irish victory was already secure.

Ireland were leading at half-way, with France second and Britain third. The British had to count three riders with four faults: Nick Skelton on Everest Showtime, William Funnell on Comex and John Whitaker on Grannusch. Michael Whitaker's eight faults on Midnight Madness became the discard score.

The British rallied in the second half. Showtime was clear, Midnight Madness had just 0.25 on time faults and Grannusch was faultless. France might have forced a jump-off with Ireland, but Herve Godignon's mount, Twist du Valon, dropped a foot in the water.

"There's nothing better than a win in front of the home crowd," Ned Campion, chef d'equipe of the Irish team, said. Ronnie Massarella, his British counterpart, was disappointed by the narrow defeat, but encouraged by his team's performance. "I'm more confident about the European Championships now," he said.

Showtime's improved form after her rest last week was particularly heartening, and Skelton is again regarding the mare as his probable partner for the European team, while Gran-nusch also showed good form after his holiday.

Midnight Madness's second round retrieved his reputation, despite going that split second over the time allowed. A whistle from Skelton alerted Whitaker to the fact that he needed to get a move on, but he did not quite reach the finish in time.

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