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Ireland snatch brilliant Nations Cup success in Rome

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Ireland won a thrilling FEI Rolex Piazza Di Siena CSIO5* Nations Cup for the first time in over 100 years in Rome on Friday afternoon.The Irish thwarted host nation Italy, who had led for most of the afternoon, following a jump-off, with Mikey Pender and the Irish Sport Horse HHS Calais the heroes.Kildareman Pender and HHS Calais, owned by Bravo Hughes Ltd, were first to go in the tie-break eliminator round, with the aim of jumping clear in the quickest time.

They did just that in a lightning quick 33.91 seconds, piling the pressure on the Italian combination of Francesca Ciriesi and Cape Coral.

That pressure proved too much for the home pairing, who knocked a pole early in their round to hand the cup to Ireland.It is the first time an Irish team has won an Italian Nations Cup and team manager Blake couldn't hide his delight at the history makers.He said: "That was some performance, from the whole team, and just stunning from Mikey Pender.

To jump double clear and then come out and put up that time in the jump-off was just exceptional."But the whole lot of them - Jack Ryan had a disappointing first round before coming out second time around to only have one pole down, that showed real character."Then Denis Lynch and Michael G Duffy were both foot-perfect in their rounds before Mikey did the business - I asked them at the halfway point to do exactly that and they delivered.

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