Intesa San Paolo Nations Cup: Ireland Beats Italy In the Jump-Off

The 90th edition of the Intesa San Paolo Nations Cup at Piazza di Siena show jumping competition in Rome sees Ireland as the winner for the first time in history. In second place was Italy, clearly up to the mark.

Nation Cups
Ph. ©Sport e Salute/Simone Ferraro
With a prize money of 220,000 euro, Intesa San Paolo Nations Cup offered the audience an exciting competition that ended with a heart-stopping jump-off, after two manches, the first of which was necessary for the riders to qualify for the Rolex Gran Prix, which will conclude the most important equestrian competition in Italy on Sunday 28 May. As usually, the location of this exciting show jumping race is the magnificent green oval of the Galappatoio di Villa Borghese.

The Jump-Off

The 2023 Nations Cup jump-off between Ireland and Italy saw Michael Pender with Hhs Calais and Francesca Ciriesi with Cape Coral, two talents from the Young Riders Academy. Pender was part of the YRA in 2019 and Ciriesi in 2017. In this edition of the Nations Cup, the Irish rider made a splendid clear round in the jump-off. With determination and precision Pender collected three clear round today, contributing largely to Ireland’s victory. Ciriesi, on the other hand, made a fault, knocking down the obstacle of the second jump, but both the young lady and the Italian team seemed to be in great shape.

Francesca Ciriesi declared after the jump-off:

It was my first Cup in Rome, the team was very united and calm all along and the important result came in the end. This is a competition where you have to proceed step by step and slowly everything came together in the best possible way. I am sorry about my jump-off, but the overall excellent performance, mine and that of my teammates, is what counts in the end. The jump-off will also be an important experience for the future. I would especially like to thank Porro, with whom I practically started from the junior Nations Cups: he took me on and brought me up to here. In any case, I will always be… Franceschina. Nothing changes, I am just much more aware of the strength of my Cape Coral”.

The Italian and Irish Teams

The Italian national team selector Marco Porro chose, in addition to Francesca Ciriesi on Cape Coral, who before the jump-off had two outstanding rounds (4 and 0 penalties), Antonio Maria Garofalo on Conquestador (4 and 0 penalties), Emanuele Gaudiano on Crack Balou (4 and 12 penalties) and Giampiero Garofalo on Max Van Lentz Schrans. The latter’s performance was excellent with two clear rounds.

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Ph. ASam
The well-known Italian chef de piste who bore the signature of Uliano Vezzani declared in the occasion of the presse conference after the prize-giving cerimony:

I told Porro this morning: I had an overwhelmingly positive feeling, I could see the horses were in goood shape, and I was certain that we would obtain an excellent result”.

This is the spur of the moment comment by Antonio Maria Garofalo:

I told Francesca that she shouldn’t feel guilty about the 4-penalty score of the jump-off, because that is exactly what happened to me. On the eve of the race we would certainly have bet on it to have  such a result, our feat, however, is not accidental: it comes from the good organisation on the part of Porro, we hope to continue like this”.

For the team of Ireland competed, in addition to Pender: Jack Ryan with Bbs Mcgregor (12 and 4 penalties), Michael G. Duffy with Clitschko 17 (4 and 0 penalties) and Denis Lynch with Vistogrand (4 and 0 penalties).


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Third Place Ex Aequo

Four teams tied, with 12 total penalties, for third place: Holland, Germany, France and Sweden. Seventh were Great Britain and Belgium (16). The ranking was completed by the two teams excluded from the second round, namely Brazil (ninth with 12 penalties in the first round) and Switzerland (tenth with 24).

Remarkable performance by John Withacker, class of 1955 and top international show jumper for over 40 years, who made two clear rounds for the Great Britain team.

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See you tomorrow with the Loro Piana Trophy and the Six Bars.

Denisa Kucik

Featured Image: @piazzadisiena | Instagram