Sweden Jump to Glory at Hickstead
This is the second major Nations Cup competition we have seen in the last week. First was at Aachen in Germany and now we are at Hickstead in the UK. This is the penultimate of the seven rounds of the Nations Cup series this year which takes place between May and August. The current leader with 320 points is France with Switzerland in second with 270 points. There are ten countries participating in this year’s competition with Great Britain before the competition today occupying last place with only 120 points.
After the intense heat of yesterday, it was a relief to have cooler conditions. The first class of the day was an international qualifier sponsored by The Old Lodge Stud. Like last time we were at Hickstead, the class was won by the first to go Guy Williams riding Chilli in the one round competition against the clock. He went round in 62.71 seconds. In second was the well known daughter of Bruce Springsteen, Jessica, riding Hungry Heart for the USA in 66.20 seconds. Third was Irish rider Michael Duff, riding Be Con Champo just behind with 66.24 seconds.
The second course for the day was the Bunn Leisure International Stakes, another jumping exercise with only one round and against the clock. There were 31 who started from 9 different countries from as far away as Brazil, a few from the USA and others from European countries. The winner in 60.59 seconds was Amanda Derbyshire, riding her own Oasis Spirit. In second was another British rider, Jessica Mendoza, the second to last to go. She was riding Dollar Girl 66 and completed in 61.48 seconds. In third was Catherine Tyree riding Bec Lorenzo for the United States. She too had a clear round, this time in 62.74 seconds.
We have to remember that this is the Royal International Horse Show, and as such, there are dozens and dozens of showing classes. Hundreds of horses compete in the various classes and the final few have their championships judged in the main international arena. The Supreme Working Hunter Championship was on today’s menu, and this was won by Rory Gilsenan riding nine year old Atlantic Slim.
Now for the main event of the day, The Great Britain Nations Cup for the Edward, Prince of Wales Trophy – sponsored by Longines. The first few achieved clear rounds before the first British rider Amanda Derbyshire riding Roulette BH, sadly ended in disaster as the two parted company at the water in the most horrid of falls. For some time the class was held up while the officials, who were very quick and efficient I may say, attended to both horse and rider. Both were transported off to their relevant healthcare facilities for proper check-ups. The rest of the class continued without incident. At the half way point, Sweden were in the lead on a total of no faults, followed by Ireland and Belgium, both teams with only 4 faults. Italy came next with 5 faults and USA came next with 8. Brazil had a total of 9 followed by Germany with 13 faults and following the British difficulties with their first rider, Great Britain ended the first part with 20 faults.
Just before the start of the second round, when the teams go in order of worst to best following the results of the first round, good news came through that Amanda Derbyshire and her horse Roulette BH were comfortable and were not expected to have any lasting effects from their horrible fall.
It looked as though the Swedish team were well in the driving seat and they would take all the beating following their really confident first round. Their first rider Fredrik Jonsson riding Cold Play added the first faults to the Swedish total with one pole down – 4 faults. The following two in, Angelie von Essen riding Luikan Q and Peder Fredricson riding Zacromento had no faults, so by the time the fourth rider from each team started, Sweden couldn’t be beaten, so Rolf-Goran Bengtsson riding Oak Grove’s Carlyle didn’t even have to ride. Sweden won with a total of 4 faults from their two rounds.
The tussle for second and third was what the competition became all about. Both Irish and Belgian riders had mixed fortunes with Belgium collecting another 12 faults from their riders which rather put them out of contention. Ireland faired rather better with an addition of only 4 faults to their total. So they came second. Belgium slipped to fourth place with Italy sneaking the third spot with a total of 10 faults. The USA, Brazil, Germany and Great Britain filled the other places in that order, each country collecting a total of 20 or more faults. It is also worth noting that The Nations Cup series is one of the main qualifiers for the Olympic Games, and with Japan now less than a year away, it is beginning to look doubtful that Great Britain will qualify to be able to field a team. However, Ben Maher of Great Britain is riding out of his skin at the moment. He went clear in both rounds riding Tic Tac
In the press conference afterwards, confirmation that both Amanda Derbyshire and her horse were both recovering well by show director Edward Bunn. Chef d’equipe for the Swedish Team, Henrik Ankarcrona was obviously delighted to have won a second Nations Cup this year, their first at home in Falsterbo and now Hickstead. This is the first time that Sweden had ever won the event at Hickstead. The course was designed for the first time by Paul Connor.
It was disappointing that the crowd, which had been quite good for the first round – nothing like last week’s 40,000 at Aachen, but good for Hickstead, rather dispersed after it became fairly clear, provided there were no hiccups, Sweden would win. Show director Edward Bunn rather riley suggested that they may have gone shopping?