• Ireland threw down the gauntlet in the Mercedes-Benz Aachen Nations Cup, securing the win with three riders gone – and two combinations who will be travelling to Paris for the Olympics jumping double clear – with Mexico and Britain finishing a fence behind in second and third place respectively.

    Denis Lynch (Vistogrand), Bertram Allen (Pacino Amiro), Shane Sweetnam (James Kann Cruz, pictured) and Cian O’Connor (Fancy De Kergane) were one of five teams who took a clean sheet to the second round, with just the first fence down from Denis and his European silver medal-winning ride as the discard score. Shane and James Kann Cruz are on the Irish Olympic team and Bertram and Pacino Amiro are the alternate combination.

    They were level-pegging with Sweden, Mexico, Britain and the Netherlands, but then jumped three clears in succession in round two, so Cian and the nine-year-old stallion did not have to jump.

    “I thought they weren’t so bad!” said Irish chef d’equipe Michael Blake of his team. “When Denis had that first fence that he didn’t want, it looked like a long way home, but that was the first and last fence we had all night.

    “We’re so delighted to be here; it’s been a long time since we won here but it was the plan all year to bring the best team here, and thankfully things went our way tonight. Thank you to Mexico and Great Britain for pushing us all the way to the line, and the crowd was unbelievable. This show is phenomenal.”

    Britain were in fine form, with only one unlucky rail for Harry Charles and Casquo Blue as the discard score in round one and Ben Maher (Dallas Vegas Batilly), Scott Brash and his Paris Olympics ride Hello Jefferson and Robert Whitaker and Vermento jumping clear.

    Ben and Scott repeated their foot-perfect performances in the second round but the luck was not with Harry, who hit the first part of the double, the US planks and the German oxer for 12 faults. Robert and the Blatchfords’ 11-year-old stallion jumped a super round just clipping the same fence in the double, putting Britain on a total of four.

    This was the same finishing score as Mexico: Nicolas Pizzaro (Pia Contra), Andres Azcarraga (Contendros 2), Federico Fernandez (Romeo) and Eugenio Garza Perez (Contago), who edged ahead thanks to a two-second time advantage.

    British showjumping performance manager Di Lampard said she was delighted with the result, and the way the partnerships performed.

    “They’re really coming into form at the right time,” she said. “The team as a whole are really coming together; third place in Rotterdam last week was exciting, then in top competition here. The last three years we’ve been on the podium here.”

    Di cited the quality of the field, as shown by the number of clear rounds, and the fact the British team was more than up for the challenge.

    “We’ve had a steady start to the year, but every four years, our goal is the Olympic Games and I feel the riders and horses – each partnership has had its individual plan – are going towards the Games, and hopefully we’re going to peak in August.”

    The last team outing before Paris will be the British Nations Cup at the Royal International Horse Show.

    “We’ll be there; and we want to retain our trophy.’ Di said.

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