I'm back at base in Frankfurt, and it's just sinking in now of the great job we all did as part of the Irish team last Friday in La Baule. When you think of the level of horsepower the other teams had there, and the fact that on paper prior to the competition nobody would have fancied us for the top three, it was really an amazing achievement all round.
Over the last few years, Robert Splaine our Chef d'Equipe has really found his feet and has become so experienced at the job that he really trusts his top riders. Robert had never before seen me jumping with Larkhill Cruiser in the flesh and it was not my original plan to jump him in the Nations' Cup, but rather the Derby. However, following the first round of the big class on the opening day, Joey jumped it so easy and impressively that Robert asked me if I would make him available for the Nations' Cup.
It was a brave call on his part, but the horse had answered every question I had ever asked of him so far, so I thought - why not? In the Nations' Cup itself Shane Sweetnam was our pathfinder and did a great job to jump around with only one time fault in the first round and one fence down in the second. Billy Twomey was as cool as ever, and produced two 4 fault rounds from a very new horse to his string, Romanov, who I've no doubt will go on to jump many big classes with Billy.
Cameron Hanley jumped a super clear in the first round which was crucial as it put us in equal second at the halfway stage. Larkhill Cruiser (pictured left) had one fence down in the first round, and in the end his second round clear proved vital as Cameron coming last to go had a discard score.
The Belgians then had a fence in hand and luckily for us Jos Lansink knocked both parts of the combination and had a time fault to leave us the winners of the opening leg of the FEI Nations' Cup.
We almost couldn't believe it, which just goes to show you when people are focused on one target and work together to achieve that goal, anything is possible.
It's a great boost for the season to have 10 points on the league table so early on and hopefully at least a few placings in the next couple of rounds will keep us in a great position. The victory in La Baule clearly proves what many have said all along - that Ireland is full of talented riders. Indeed, in the Nations' Cup competition itself they were all top riders - the crucial difference was that some were hungrier than others!
I fly home to Ireland tomorrow night, where I will be working with Dr. Andrew McLean to perform a demonstration on Thursday. The day starts at 2pm in the Snailbox pub in Co. Meath and then continues until 8pm at the adjacent Karlswood Stables. Tickets can be got on the gate on the day. Click here and contact Orla for more information.
This weekend coming I compete at the three star in Pforzheim, Germany. Check back next weekend for more news.