Ireland are double European champions after James Kernan’s Show Jumping Junior (Under-18) team won gold under pressure
Kernan’s GAIN Equine Nutrition team of Kilkenny’s James, Timmy and Eoin Brennan, Clare’s Coen Williams and Tipperary’s Tom Wachman added gold to yesterday’s Young Rider (Under-21) success at the Italian venue, seeing off The Netherlands in second, with Great Britain completing the podium in third place.
Ireland entered the final round with a score of 3.16, which gave them the buffer of one fence down to spare.
With Eoin Brennan finishing his round with an unlucky four faults on board Eskola M and and James Brennan having a score of eight on board MHS I’m The One (ISH) it meant the pressure was on with Wachman and Williams still to jump.
Coolness personified, Wachman jumped impeccably on board the mare Cathalina S to steady the ship and leave Ireland one clear round from double gold.
With the final Dutch rider Nick Nanning applying the pressure following his clear round it meant Williams needed to be perfect to secure the victory for Ireland.
With ice in his veins, the individual leader was sensational on board Conthanja yet again, jumping clear to give Kernan’s men a sensational victory.
Ireland finished the competition on a score of 7.16 points, seeing off the Netherlands who finished up on 9.12 and there was a huge gap back to Great Britain on 24.02.
“I’m just so, so proud of these boys – they showed so much character to hold firm and perform to that level and bring the gold medal home,” Kernan said.
“Those four faults for Eoin that early in his round were so unlucky, he was magnificent to keep it at just four – and that set us up for Tom and Coen to deliver the goods.
“We know the two of them having watched them for the last few years, they thrive under pressure and they both jumped so well.
“It was a difficult course technically but it wasn’t a huge course so it suited the boys and their horses because the two horses as such careful jumpers – it played into our hands a little bit.
“I must reiterate what I said yesterday, we need to continue to invest in the underage programme. We’re producing the stars of the future and you can see what talent we have coming through.
“We’re the envy of the other nations here this week, even down to the new gear that Horse Sport Ireland has provided for this year. We’ve been envious of the others in the past but we really look the part out here and have backed that up in the arena.
“A huge thanks, again, to everyone out here and everyone behind the scenes not here. It’s a huge undertaking from top to bottom and these lads have some amazing teams behind them – as do I.
“We’re grateful to each and every one of the support staff and of course the grooms, as well as GAIN, our sponsor.
“Let’s hope we can keep going now until tomorrow and bring home one or two more medals.”