Ireland won the Aga Khan Trophy at the Dublin Horse Show

Conor Sowell, Shane Sweetnam, Cian O’Connor and Max Watchman with The Aga Khan Perpetual Trophy. Credit: Brendan Ó hUllacháin.

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Ireland won the Longines Nations Cup of Ireland for the prize of the Aga Khan Perpetual Trophy at the Dublin Horse Show this evening.

The Michael Blake-managed team produced six clear rounds, including three from Conor Sowell and Count Me In, to lift the prestigious Equestrian Cup for the first time since 2015.

In the Seven Nations event, Ireland jumped to sixth place, with Swell and Count Me In acting as pathfinders for the team.

In an exciting opening round, Blake’s side made three clear rounds, from Sowell (Count Me In), Shane Sweetnam (James Caan Cruise) and Cian O’Connor (Kilkenny).

Another member of the team, eighteen-year-old Max Wachmann riding Burlux Jade, was just one fence down in the first round.

Ireland finished the first round on zero scores, with France and Switzerland on four faults respectively.

Marc DeLasser (Aristo du Gevres) and Edward Levy (Uno de Serisi) made clear rounds for Henk Nooren, while Steve Guerdat (Dynamics de Belhem) and Martin Fuchs (Cardano CH) did likewise for the Swiss.

The Netherlands and Belgium were next in round one, each on 12 faults, while the USA and Norway (who were competing in the Aga Khan Trophy for the first time) each recorded scores of 20 preliminary round faults.

Second round

France started Round 2 with three clean rounds and if two of the first three Swiss riders made mistakes in the water, France would finish with a worst-possible score of 4 faults.

Count Me In and Connor Sowell went clear in the second round and Max Wachman was in the final part of the treble down.

Just as Cork riders Shane Sweetnam and James Caan Cruise looked to be heading for a double clear round, a pole fell at the end, meaning Ireland would need their anchor leg combination to force Cian O’Connor and Kilkenny clear. Jump off with the French.

The Irish combination is duly obliged to force a jump on a short course.

Ireland and France both selected their original pathfinders Conor Swaile and Mark DeLasser to contest the jump-off, as both produced double-clear rounds during the competition.

With DeLasser and Aristo du Guevres going clear in 31.81 seconds, the pressure was now on the Irish combination, not to go clear alone, but to do so in a faster time.

Swail and Count Me In made their third clear round of the competition, as did the French combination shortly before, but the Irish representative went clear in a faster time of 30.31 seconds, winning Ireland’s Longines Nations Cup for the Aga Khan Perpetual Trophy for home.

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