A triumphant Irish pony team held the French Nations’ Cup aloft for the third year in succession yesterday at Fontainebleau after a remarkably consistent second round and a double clear from Tom Foley.
With 11 teams in the competition, Ireland was one of six which made the cut for the second round, lying equal second with France on a total score of four faults. Germany, in the lead on a zero score, failed to hold their nerve in the final round, however, suffering three fences down and an elimination to finish on 12 faults.
France had a similar fate, though chalking up two zero scores second time out. An elimination and then a 12 penalty tally from anchorwoman Tressy Muhr left them reeling with a 16 fault tally at the final bell.
A recovery by the British team, who had been lying fourth on five faults after the first round, posed the biggest threat to Ireland’s victory, and though they recorded no faults in the second round, the British were unable to match three clear rounds from the Irish quartet, who therefore held their four fault score right to the end.
Tom Foley and Crown Jewel were Ireland’s most consistent performers, with a zero score in each round, while team opener Paraic Kenny with the Connemara pony Grey Ross had four faults and a clear second time out. Matt Garrigan scored a clear round and four faults on Dr. Spot, while Molly O’Shea and the Irish-bred More Clover had zero penalties in their first round and a single fence down in their second.
Though winning by just one point, the Irish quartet fulfilled the hope for a three-in-a-row victory, having also taken the French Nations’ Cup at Fontainebleau in 2010 and 2011. Both Kenny and Foley have featured in all three teams, though on different mounts.
• French rider Maelys Chiron scored for the home side in taking out the speed class, which has previously been the domain of the Irish riders. The course features natural fences and a big water jump.
Chiron started second in the rankings, but a clear round kept her ahead of the 19 other riders. Ireland’s Charlotte Donaghue was second on Arganium Boy, and Dutch rider Amke Bekhuis was third with Matchello. Six Irish riders were in the top 10.
PONY NATIONS’ CUP OF FRANCE – Fontainebleau, April 14, 2012
1) IRELAND 4 faults
PARAIC KENNY/GREY ROSS (CP) 4/0
MATT GARRIGAN/DR SPOT 4/0
MOLLY O’SHEA/MORE CLOVER (ISH) 0/4
TOM FOLEY/CROWN JEWEL 0/0
2) GREAT BRITAIN 5 faults
3) NETHERLANDS 9 faults
4) GERMANY 12 faults
5) FRANCE 16 faults
6) FINLAND 20 faults