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Irish Show Jumping Team Named for Aga Khan – Michael Blake’s Quartet Drawn Sixth to Jump

Irish Show Jumping team manager Michael Blake, third from left, with Aga Khan squad members, from left, Max Wachman (IRL), Shane Sweetnam (IRL), Cian O’Connor (IRL), Conor Swail (IRL) and Jack Ryan, as well as The Underwriting Exchange founder and chairman Stephen O’Connor, right, during the 2022 Dublin Horse Show at the RDS in Dublin.

Dublin, Ireland – August 17, 2022 – Irish Show Jumping team manager Michael Blake has named his four horses and riders for today’s (Friday) Longines FEI Nations Cup of Ireland CSIO 5*, for the Aga Khan trophy at the RDS Dublin Horse Show CSIO 5*. The Irish team includes two Irish Sport Horses and a mix of youth and experience, with 19-year-old Max Wachman making his Aga Khan debut alongside the hugely experienced trio of Conor Swail (IRL), Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Cian O’Connor (IRL).

Ireland have been drawn second last to jump of the seven teams that will compete and line-out as follows:

Down’s Conor Swail (IRL) & Count Me In – Owned by Sandy Lupton & Mannon Farm
Tipperary’s Max Wachman (IRL) & Berlux Z – Owned by Coolmore Showjumping
Cork’s Shane Sweetnam (IRL) & James Kann Cruz (ISH) – Owned by Gizmo Partners LLC
Meath’s Cian O’Connor (IRL) & Kilkenny (ISH) – Owned by Susan Magnier

RESERVE – Kilkenny’s Jack Ryan (IRL) & with BBS McGregor (ISH) – Owned by Marguerite Ryan

Ireland last won the Aga Khan in 2015 and along with hoping to bridge a seven year gap and lift the famous trophy, Michael Blake and his team are hoping to secure enough league points to make it through to the Longines FEI Nations Cup final which takes place in Barcelona (ESP) at the end of September.

USA will be the first team into the arena followed by Norway, Brazil, Netherlands, France, Ireland and Switzerland. Five teams, (France, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland) will compete for Nations Cup points in Dublin, while USA and Brazil will will not be eligible for points.

Having been denied the opportunity to lead Ireland out on Aga Khan day in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid, Clare native Michael Blake is looking forward to Friday’s challenge and said:

“The Aga Khan is always a very special day on the Irish sporting calendar and is extra special this year following a two-year break due to Covid. I am confident that we have a very strong team. Conor Swail is World No.4 and has been having a superb season. Max Watchman will be making his Aga Khan debut and although he is just 19, has already shown he is very talented and has an exceptional horse in Berlux Z. Shane Sweetnam and The Irish Sport Horse James Kann Cruz are an incredibly exciting combination and jumped a brilliant double clear in the Rotterdam Nations Cup and at Langley in Canada.

“Our anchor rider Cian O’Connor needs no introduction, he is our most capped Nations Cup rider and can always be relied upon to deliver when it matters. Our reserve rider Jack Ryan has had an excellent Nations Cup campaign this year, jumping clear rounds in three Nations Cups. To win an Aga Khan is never easy. There are several really strong teams here this year but we will be fighting to the end to hopefully lift the trophy.”

The Longines FEI Nations Cup of Ireland for the Aga Khan trophy starts at 3pm Irish time on Friday afternoon and is part of RTE”s Dublin Horse Show live coverage which comes on air at 1.20pm. Ruby Walsh will be joined in studio by Gerry Mullins and Nicola FitzGibbon, with commentary by Pauric Lodge.

The Irish Show Jumping team is sponsored by The Underwriting Exchange

Source: Press Release from Horse Sport Ireland

Photo: © Horse Sport Ireland / Sam Barnes / Sportsfile