Great Britain win FEI Nations Cup leg in America
 
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09 Jul 18

Great Britain win FEI Nations Cup leg in America

For the past two years, the British Team has finished third in the FEI Eventing Nations Cup at Great Meadow International (GMI). This year, the previous leaderboard stood on its head and saw GB standing atop the podium on a score of 138.5 in the only Nations Cup competition in North America. Team Canada finished second on 148.7 and Team USA rounded out the top three on 157.5.

Great Britain, made of up Sophie Brown, Ben Hobday, Georgie Spence, and Leslie Law, led the Nations Cup team competition wire to wire, taking the lead in the dressage phase on a score of 97.7, picking up just 1.6 penalties to add to their team score in show jumping, and finishing on a three-phase team score of 138.5 after the cross country, more than 10 points ahead of the second-placed Canadian team.

Trailblazers for the British team, Georgie Spence and her own and Suzanne Doggett’s 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Halltown Harley were the top-placed individuals for Great Britain, placing second on their dressage score of 35.2.

Leslie Law and Voltaire De Tre, Tre’ Book’s nine-year-old gelding, anchored the British team late in the day, jumping clean and picking up 8.8 time penalties to end the weekend in ninth place on 46.4 penalties.

Ben Hobday and his own and Jane Chambers’ Shadow Man an eight-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, sat in second place overnight on a two-phase score of 29.7 but picked up an unfortunate run-out at 9B to finish in 16th place on a final score of 56.9.

“It’s a little bit bittersweet for me,” said Hobday, “but the team has done an amazing job. It’s nice to be in the position I was going into cross country but he’s a young horse and I think a lot of him. He just came out a little bit green, a little bit looky. As he cantered down the hill into the arena it was a little bit of a shock for him. It happens. This is the job we’re in and I’m grateful we got him home sound, safe, and he’s still feeling good. It’s disappointing, but we’re going to hold our head high and look to the next show. Hopefully that horse will do something very special soon.”

Sophie Brown and her longtime partner Wil, a 15-year-old gelding she owns with her mother, also picked up 20 penalties at 9B and added an additional 10.4 time penalties to their overnight score of 34.4 to finish in 18th place.

“It was good to come on a horse that’s still pulling,” said Brown. “I think the course did that really well. I know Wil like the back of my hand and he was jumping big. When you look back on the course, with the hanging log he became a little bit of an introvert on me, which then gave him a glance-off. I wish those corners were the other way around, as probably lots of riders do. What was good to know was that he came home pulling and quick and healthy and happy. Maybe another day my dice will roll a bit differently but it was good fun.”

British Chef d’Equipe Philip Surl was back this year for the third time, and he shared that having been to Great Meadow International multiple times helped him prepare this year’s team for the competition. “It’s good to know the layout. Obviously with Mike [Etherington-Smith’s] courses, we know them very well in the U.K., but again he always builds a good track, and there’s always a fence that maybe catches people out.”

“The continuity here is through Alex [Van Tuyll] who looks after the horses,” he continued. “This trip would not really happen without Alex doing everything. Her work ethic is unbelievable, her organization, how happy she always is, even when the riders get a bit tetchy or I have a moment.

“It’s great to come over here. We’ve had a couple of more challenging years. Today was a roller coaster from start to finish. It didn’t go out the way my dream happened last night; it certainly didn’t work out that way, but it just shows in a team competition anything can happen until the very end.

“The support with the guys that come out with the horses – not just the team riders – has been fantastic,” Surl commented. “I think the first year we maybe only had one owner that made the trip out. We’re just incredibly grateful to be here and give our horses and our riders the opportunity to ride at this level at a competition of this magnitude . . . [Great Meadow] is a fantastic venue. We always feel so well looked after and welcome, so thank you.”

Team Canada sat in third place after dressage and show jumping, adding 18 penalty points to their team dressage score of 108.9 in the show jumping phase, but moved into second place today to finish the weekend on 148.7. USA took third place on a total score of 157.5 penalties.

Full scores