The competition was decided by the squad’s final rider Michael Whitaker on the Widdowsons’ stallion Cassionato. Having survived a hairy moment at the water jump in round one, the 55-year-old produced an immaculate clear round of jumping, adding just two time-faults. With earlier great rounds from Spencer Roe (Wonder Why) and Guy Williams (Titus) and a double clear from Joe Clee (Utamaro D’Ecaussines), this was enough to seal a two-point victory for his team, denying the determined French team a much coveted win on home soil.
As Great Britain were not chasing points in this round of the Nations Cup, maximum points went to France, placing them top of the leader board.
“I’m lucky to have so many good riders to choose from,” said Di Lampard, who took over the role of chef d’equipe at the start of the year. “It makes it difficult sometimes, but competition is good for everybody, it’s healthy and it helps me make my choices.”
The Irish squad of Cian O’Connor (Good Luck), Darragh Kenny (Sans Souci Z), Greg Broderick (MHS Going Global) and Bertram Allen (Molly Malone) finished third with 12 faults.
Great Britain’s first point-scoring round of the series comes this Friday (22 May) in Rome, where Robert Whitaker (Catwalk IV), Michael Whitaker (Cassionato), John Whitaker (Argento) and Holly Gillott (Dougie Douglas) will be vying for a place in Britain’s final four-man squad.
Results of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup in La Baule:
1. Great Britain 7
2. France 9
3. Ireland 12
4. Spain and Belgium 13
6. Switzerland and Brazil 20
8. Netherlands 32
Don’t miss the full report from Team GB’s triumph in La Baule in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, out Thursday 21 May.