Great Britain was forced to field a three-rider team in the FEI Nations Cup in the UAE on Thursday (16 February) after a quarantine mix-up meant Robert Smith’s horses were unable to travel to the Middle East.

Robert was part of the original squad selected to compete in the first Nations Cup team competition of 2017. But at the “12th hour” Robert was told his horses were unable to travel to the Al Ain venue in the United Arab Emirates, which meant the British team was down to the trio of Louise Saywell (Cordalis), Nigel Coupe (Golvers Hill) and Joe Clayton (Con Man JX). They finished eighth with 37 faults behind victors France in Thursday’s two-round competition.

“There were difficulties with the import license,” performance manager Di Lampard told H&H. “It was one of those things that wasn’t brought to light until it was too late. The horses needed to be in isolation 15 days prior to the show.

“It was obviously disappointing and hard without a discard score.”

Two weeks ago, Robert was competing in the CSI5* World Cup show in Bordeaux, France, oblivious to the fact that his horses should have been in quarantine.

“I only found out at the 12th hour that my horses were supposed to be in quarantine two weeks before the show, instead of competing in Bordeaux,” said Robert.

“It was only as the vet was about to sign the horses away that it came to light.

“It certainly wasn’t for me not wanting to go — but somewhere between Abu Dhabi and here, something stuffed up.

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“There’s no excuse, it’s utter nonsense. I can’t believe I was the only one it happened to either.”

Don’t miss the full report from the FEI Nations Cup and the rest of the international action in next week’s Horse & Hound (out Thursday 23 February).