Britain’s vaulters got their international season off to a cracking start with two wins in Saumur, France (22-25 April).

The team — comprising world champion Joanne Eccles, Andrew McLachlan and the English vaulting squad — successfully defended their Nations Cup title, despite stiff competition from the French and Swiss teams.

In the individual female class Joanne and her horse WH Bentley trounced their rivals, putting in a peerless performance to dominate from start to finish.

“This was a fantastic competition for both our vaulters and horses,” said delighted chef d’equipe Lucy Bell. “All five horses posted some of the highest scores of the weekend, including some rarely seen eights.”

And while Joanne is the flagbearer for the sport in Britain, the team looked to have strength in depth with promising individual debuts in the male class from Andrew (ninth) and George Cox (12th).

As H&H went to press, the team was competing in Holland ahead of a busy few weeks of competition. All roads now aim at the European Championships, which take place in France in August.

“After Holland we’re off on to Belgium where we have a huge squad entered in May and hope to build on the success we had in Saumur,” Miss Bell added.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (5 May, 2011)