Watching live on RTÉ as the Irish team jump crucial clear rounds during the Rotterdam Nations Cup has (to my mind) ushered in a new era in the history of Irish showjumping, bringing our best international riders and horses back into the living rooms of Ireland.
For someone like me who was lucky to have enjoyed the glory times of the sixties and seventies when Irish stars like Tommy Wade and Eddie Macken shone on the BBC from places like Wembley and Hickstead, it was thrilling to watch our current stars perform so well against the toughest of competition in the Longines Nations Cup at Rotterdam on Friday June 25th.
As I have mentioned here many times, our top riders can no longer be based on Irish soil and thus they loose connection with the home punters. We can only hope that RTÉ will continue what they so wonderfully began in this year’s Cup series.
This would mean a whole new beginning for the sport here. Imagine youngsters watching the likes of Shane Sweetnam from Cork or Daniel Coyle from Derry jumping clear for Ireland to put pressure on the all but unbeatable Dutch home team, what dreams that can engender.
I am also sure that the pride I felt when seeing a horse bred in Galway be the star performer in this tough competition, would be shared by many punters and breeders around the country.
On top of that we had, the Galway-bred CSF James Kann Cruz jump that beautiful double clear that kept Ireland up there, just behind the Dutch and equal to the mighty French. By Kannan out of a Cruising dam, he was bred in Galway by Patrick Connolly.
It has to be said that Brendan McArdle did a masterful job of bringing us lively commentary on the proceedings. He was not just an observer but a heartfelt participant, jumping each fence in spirit with the riders and horses.
On top of that he did it alone without the usual sidekick. Hence he not only told us what was happening on the course, but had to keep tabs on how the scoring was going as well.
Nations Cup and Grand Prix rider Nicola FitzGibbon, who is also a popular coach was the perfect choice to link up with Ruby Walsh for analyses in the studio. Keep it up RTÉ!
Well Done RTÉ!
Well done commentator Brendan McArdle!
Well done studio analyst Nicola FitzGibbon!
But above all well done to Michael Blake’s team of Daniel Coyle (from Derry and based in Canada), Denis Lynch (from Tipperary and based in Germany), Trevor Breen (from Tipperary and based in England) and Shane Sweetnam (from Cork and based in the USA).