A bright young British team came out on top at the second leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping Europe Division 2 league staged in Odense, Denmark, on Friday.
In runner-up spot at the halfway stage of the competition carrying just four faults, they added eight more in the second round yet still clinched it without the help of their fourth-line rider, Jessie Drea.
The half-way leaders from Switzerland had to share second place with Belgium and France in the final analysis when things didn’t go their way in round two. A total of 13 nations competed, but only eight were permitted to return to the second round and the host country competitors found themselves sidelined when, although sharing the same midway score as four other countries, their slower combined times prevented them from making the cut.
Course designer was Denmark’s Bo Bak Andersen and winning team member, Holly Gilliott, described the track as “about as difficult as I expected – wide, square oxers – there was a wide oxer before the water jump but you had to keep coming to the following upright and you were fighting to keep them balanced there”.
Danish chances took an early knock when the course designer’s son, Lars Bak Andersen, was eliminated for a fall at the water with the nine-year-old Conte Couleur who really didn’t like the look of it. “I was happy with the course as there were faults all over the track and no great disasters … well, except for my son!” said the bemused course builder afterwards.
Britain’s Tim Page made a brilliant recovery when following his first-round 16-fault effort with just a single mistake at his second attempt with Santa Cruise while Harriet Nuttall added just four faults to her opening clear with A Touch of Imperious so Jessie Drea and Touchable, who had faulted just once in the opening round, didn’t have to jump again. They had it all sewn up with their 12-fault finishing score.
Gilliott was thrilled in the aftermath, and it was no surprise as neither herself nor team-mate Nuttall had ever competed in a Nations Cup competition before.
“We are a young team, and two of us are making our Nations Cup debut here,” said the 25-year-old who produces a string of 30 horses from her home in Leicestershire in England and who trains with Di Lampard, who was Chef d’Equipe for the British team.
“Di helped me to get to Arezzo (Italy) as the sixth person last year and I was told that if I went to Spain for the Sunshine Tour and did well I would be considered for the Nations Cups. The selectors told me what to do and I delivered, so they stuck to their word and here I am,” she said.
Gilliott explained that she has built her entire string of horses around the nine-year-old Dougie Douglas who was foot-perfect. Her career with Dougie has been interrupted a couple of times, first due to the birth of her daughter, Rosie, when the horse was a five-year-old and then when she broke her leg when he was seven. “I had to have seven operations because the leg was so badly broken but I got back riding as quickly as I could each time. It meant that he got a few long breaks during his career so far, but maybe that has kept him fresher!” she said.
Asked if she will be fighting for a place on future British teams, she said: “I will have to wait and see what the selectors say. It’s a battle to get into 3 and 4-Star shows, I’ve got to get my ranking up but I’m so happy after today. It was always my dream to ride for Great Britain and I can hardly believe we won – I’m still waiting to wake up!” she said.
Her teammate Nuttall was equally ecstatic. The 24-year-old from Somerset in England was reserve for the British Young Riders squad but never actually made it into a team before so Friday’s test was a big one.
“The sky is the limit; we have a lot of young talent,” said a delighted Di Lampard after her team’s success. “The arena here is quite compact for an indoor show and the OC have set it up perfectly. The guys were brilliant today and it all came together at the right time. All the team needed was a bit of my stability and I am so proud of them. The good spirit we have was the key. I also think it is great that the competition now allows for four riders coming back for the second round because it gives them the opportunity to improve on their first performance,” she said.
All four members of the British team were competing with Irish Sport Horses.
For Jens Staldtrabjerg, Event Director at Odense, the day was something of a triumph too, because he and his organising committee were called upon to stage the event only at the last moment. “We got this show about 10 weeks ago (from Copenhagen). Once I got news of the possibility of hosting it, I called the city of Odense and they were very happy with the idea,” he explained.
“I was very happy to see good sport here today and to see that the ground was very good as well. We started making shows here about 14 years ago and wanted to give the younger generations better conditions in Europe to compete internationally. To see what has happened with the Great Britain team over the years is fantastic, building on from the European Championships in Herning as well.”
1. Great Britain 12 faults: Dougie Douglas (Holly Gilliott) 0/0, Santa Cruise (Tim Page) 16/4, A Touch of Imperious (Harriet Nuttall) 0/4, Touchable (Jessie Drea) 4/DNS.
2. Belgium 16 faults: Breemersen Adorado (Donaat Brondeel) 4/4, Calisto V/D Windheuvel (Kim thiry) 4/8, Edel Vitseroel (Christophe Vanderhasselt) 8/0, pommeau du Heup (Niels Bruynseels) 4/0.
2. France 16 faults: Rhune D’Euskadi (Marie Demonte) 8/4, Equador van’t Roosacker (Frederic David) 0/0, Rubis de Preuilly (Cedric Angot) 0/4, Opera des Loges (Reynald Angot) Elim/8.
2. Switzerland 16 faults: Wieveau M (Alain Jufer) 0/4, Nirvana Basters (Frederique Fabre Delbos) 0/12, LB Eagle Eye (Christina Liebherr) 0/12, Aris CMS (Janika Sprunger) 0/0.
5. Sweden 20 faults: Bonzai H (Helena Persson0 8/12, Mieello (Johan Lundh) 4/4, Cafino (Alexander Zettermann) 8/4, Quite Easy (Angelica Augustsson) 0/0.
6. Australia 24 faults: Warrego Jericho (David Goodwin) 8/4, Fedor (Scott Keach) 4/12, Wirragulla Nicklaus (Jamie Winning) 16/4, Kelleter Park Caracas (Jamie Kermond) 0/4.
7. Ireland 28 faults: Caribo (Thomas Ryan) 4/4, Murchu (Michael Duffy) 8.8, Annestown (Capt M Kelly) 0/4, Nicos de la Cense (Niall Talbot) Ret/Ret/
8. Netherlands 36 faults: Wollie Boggie (Albert Zoer) 4/16, Alex (Maureen Bonder) 4/8, Zinius (Doron Kulpers) 0/12, Dynamite V. Hazelarenhoekje (Jody van Gerwen) 8.8.
Standings in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping 2014 Europe Division 2 series after Round 2:
1. Poland - 135
2. Finland - 100
3. Denmark - 100
4. Austria - 90
5. Norway - 85
6. Italy - 80
7. Slovakia - 61.66
8. Russia - 61.66
9. Hungary - 40