Great Britain’s showjumping team proved its worth by finishing third in the 2011 FEI Nations Cup series.
After snatching second place in the final Nations Cup at Rotterdam on Friday (26 August), and following a win at Dublin Horse Show (5 August), Britain has produced the goods to remain in the top league of the Nations Cup for 2012.
But incredibly, the USA — the reigning Olympic champions — and Denmark will be relegated to the promotional league for next season.
And France, which has been the overall winner for the past two years, trailed in fifth overall.
US rider Beezie Madden said: “It’s very disappointing, especially as our riders have had a few grands prix wins at these shows this year. It shows how difficult it is to stay up.”
And the United States Equestrian Federation’s Jim Wolf added: “While a disappointment, it’s not an unmitigated disaster.”
Michael Whitaker with GIG Amai II, Ben Maher (Tripple X III) Guy Williams (Depardieu Van’T Kiezelhof) and John Whitaker (Peppermill) were fourth going into the second half of competition on 26 August.
But Britain ended up in a jump-off against Germany — contesting both first place and the overall title.
Ben Maher and Ludger Beerbaum went into battle. But the German narrowly won.
FEI jumping director John Roche said: “It was exciting right to the very end and from the point of view of the sport it could not have been better.”
He said he was sorry to see the team leave the series but added: “I’m confident that they will be back with us soon.”
Team GB, led by performance manager Rob Hoekstra, is back in form, despite ups and downs in the past — including being reinstated back in the top league after finishing joint eighth in 2009 (news 15 April, 2010).
“The series has been phenomenal and we have seen some tremendous horses, giving us a depth and breadth that we would never have envisaged a few years ago,” said Rob.
“We always said we wanted to finish midway in the league, giving as many horses as possible a chance. The European Championships next month in Madrid is our next focus.”
See page 38 of the current issue of Horse & Hound (1 September, 2011) for a full report