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Official - European Show Jumping Championships - Ireland Finish Fifth, But Qualify For Athens

AFTER the second round of the Nations Cup competition at Donaueschingen, Germany, today (Friday) the Irish show jumping team finished Fifth of 10 teams.

Importantly, though, Ireland was ahead of both Gt. Britain and Italy, the vital position needed to qualify for the 2004 Athens Olympics. Switzerland staged a late rally in the second round of the Nations Cup today, finishing Third, and taking one of the two available spaces for Athens in the team event.

But Ireland, though dropping to Fifth place overall in today's European Championship team final, still finished ahead of other teams vying for the second Athens slot, such as Gt. Britain and Italy. Ireland's star was Kevin Babington, who jumped a textbook double clear on the Irish-bred <Carling King>, keeping the Irish a vital step ahead of the Italians.

Babington now lies Fourth individually, ahead of Sunday's European Individual Championships, with Cian O'Connor 17th and Robert Splaine 20th. Only the Top 25 riders jump for the Individual title.

The Top Ten positions after Round Two of the Nations Cup (Team European
Championship) were (FINAL SCORES):
1) Germany 15.15 penalties
2) France 25.30 penalties
3) Switzerland 28.86 penalties
4) Belgium 34.14 penalties

5) Ireland 34.79 penalties
Robert Splaine; Coolcorron Cool Diamond 4/4 Faults
Billy Twomey: Luidam 8/8 Faults
Cian O'Connor; Waterford Crystal 4/8 Faults
Kevin Babington; Carling King 0/0 faults

6) Italy 39.14 penalties
7) Sweden 41.88 penalties
8) Netherlands 50.85 penalties
9) Gt. Britain 55.08 penalties
10) Austria 67.23 penalties


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