A long journey to Canada paid off for Ulster showjumpers Daniel Coyle and Conor Swail as they helped Ireland lift the Longines Nations Cup at the weekend.
The Ulster duo teamed up with Andrew Bourns and Shane Sweetnam for success in the pouring rain at Langley in British Columbia.
High performance manager and chef d’equipe Michael Blake said: “The guys came here well prepared, they knew what they had to do on a five-star grass arena despite bad weather conditions and they delivered.
“I am lucky to have them, everyone committed to coming to compete at Thunderbird Park near Vancouver as this is a very important year with the World Championships looming in Denmark in August.
“We had two Irish-bred horses on the team with Sea Top Blue and James Kann Cruz.
“And this is Ireland’s fourth Nations Cup win in 2022 after winning in Abu Dhabi, Florida and Lisbon. I think if there was a Nations Cup on the moon we would jump there too.”
Bourns was the star of the show. He jumped the only double clear on the team with Sea Top Blue, formerly ridden for his yard by Fintona’s Jenny Rankin, and bought as a foal by his parents Deirdre and Richard.
Bourns said: “We had a great first round. For me it was important not to be too complacent in the second. A lot of the other teams were stronger in the second round and we needed to come back just as strong.”
Coyle, who tipped a fence in the first round and produced a superb second-round clear, added: “Jumping in the rain is never easy, but I had a lot of practice growing up in Ireland.”
Earlier, Coyle and Oak Grove Team’s Carlyle won the Thunderbird Cup jump-off class . He said: “In one year I’ve had more ranking class placings on him than any other horse I have had.”
There was also success for Swail in the Welcome Class, partnering Theo 160.