June 3, 2018 — Team Ireland led from start to finish to notch a dominant victory in the $400,000 CSIO5* Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Canada at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, BC, the premier event of the 2018 Odlum Brown BC Open.
Finishing on a total score of 12, Ireland captured Canada's leg of the Nations Cup, the first five-star competition in Thunderbird’s history. Canada finished second on 18 faults, with Mexico third on 25. The Irish team consisted of Richie Moloney and Carrabis Z, Capt. Brian Cournane and Dino, Daniel Coyle and Cita, Conor Swail and Rubens LS, and chef d’equipe Michael Blake.
Heading into the second round of jumping with an 11-point lead, Irish anchor Swail did not have to jump a second time, with Coyle clinching victory with his second round 1-fault score. Moloney, riding longtime partner Carrabis Z, was the team’s best performer and one of just two double-clear rounds on the day over the Peter Holmes (CAN)-designed course. The other came from Canada’s Tiffany Foster, riding Victor.
“My horse was great,” Moloney said. “He’s been a great servant for me, and he doesn’t owe me anything. He keeps on giving us these clear rounds and results. I’ve been aiming for this since Florida, and it really worked out. I wasn’t sure about being first to go, but it worked out for me today.”
All four riders knew of their selection for Langley’s Nations Cup in February and planned their schedules accordingly. Blake considered that a key factor to victory.
“The first thing that I think is important, is that they know a long time out that they’re coming here,” Blake said. “All these guys knew they were on this team in February. It was going to be their fault if they didn’t win!”
The team victory capped a sensational week at Thunderbird for Team Ireland, with Swail winning the CSIO5* North West Rubber Cup and Coyle topping the CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix.
“It’s very different riding individually as opposed to a team effort,” Swail said. “They are two separate competitions, grand prix and Nations Cup, and the grand prix, when you have four faults, you’re out, so it doesn’t matter what you do after that. In the Nations Cup, if you’re 4 faults, it’s more pressure, and if it’s 8 faults, it’s more pressure. It is very different, and it takes a bit of getting used to. Thankfully, I have been around long enough, that I’ve had as many ups and downs as I can manage, so another one wouldn’t make much difference!”
Swail, Coyle, Moloney, and Blake all hold previous Longines victories, but Sunday’s victory watch was a first for Cournane.
“It’s very special to ride on an Irish team,” he said. “The Irish riders do really well out here in America and Canada, and to be on an Irish team with these guys is just terrific.”
Canada came into the day hoping to sweep the North and Central American and Caribbean division series but settled for runner-up honours, still more than good enough to secure their spot atop the division standings and earn them a place in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona this fall. The United States, finishing fourth, secured the second of two qualification positions. Ireland, not part of the North and Central American and Caribbean division, sit sixth in theirs (Europe Division 1), of which seven teams qualify.
“We love our Irishmen, and they are just such amazing riders,” said Thunderbird President Jane Tidball. “Every team we feel just so grateful to for coming. We’re in our 45th year, so we’ve learned a few things along the way. It’s also the very first time we’ve held a five star event, and this has been a dream of our family for at least a decade, so we’re very happy to have done that and done it successfully.”
Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping returns to Thunderbird Show Park in August.
By Catie Staszak for Thunderbird Show Park
Photo by Cara Grimshaw Photography/tbird