William Funnell: Potential team members emerge *H&H VIP*

Opinion

While the first two point-scoring Nations Cups in La Baule and St Gallen were slightly disappointing results-wise for Great Britain, they did throw up two exciting new partnerships for the team fold.

In La Baule, Amy Inglis delivered a brilliant double clear, just adding a time-fault, then jumped faultlessly again in the grand prix. Her selection just goes to show the value of both up-to-date form — she’d finished double clear in a four-star grand prix just two weeks earlier — as well as pony, junior and young rider championship experience. She dealt with the pressure brilliantly and I was a proud godfather — her performance made the show for me.

I’d gone there as the senior member of the team and, as first rider out, I was supposed to take the pressure off the other three, not put it on by knocking two fences down. But I’m sure Amy is going to become a useful team member for our chef d’equipe Di Lampard.

Two weeks ago in St Gallen, the team enjoyed a slightly better result, where the star performer was James Wilson, jumping on his first ever team at only his second five-star show. He hadn’t gone so well in Friday’s grand prix, but hats off to Di, who stuck with him for the team on Sunday. He was under pressure to perform, but rode two cracking clear rounds. So he’s another great discovery.

We always need to perform well in Nations Cups and they are the perfect way to gauge whether combinations can come up with the goods at championship level. We now have a six-week lull before Great Britain’s next crunch-round on home soil at Hickstead at the end of July, before Dublin and, less than two weeks later, the European championships.

If we don’t qualify for the Olympics in Rotterdam, it’s vital we finish in the top seven of the 10 teams in division one in order to be at the Nations Cup final in Barcelona, where another qualifying spot is up for grabs.

That’s a lot of pressure and, with our European team unlikely to be available for Dublin, a substantial pool of riders is required to chip in and produce results.

Which is why finding these new partnerships is so important in order to give Di a bit more scope. Plus, with GB-star Amanda Derbyshire having now returned to Europe and, with any luck, our top two riders coming into the fold, things are looking more hopeful. So it’s time to regroup and look forward. And in the meantime, there’s the small matter of the Hickstead Derby for me to focus on…

Joyriders not welcome

A deservedly well-respected vet came to do a pre-purchase vetting on one of our horses recently. I was surprised to find the vet actually riding the horse, then taken aback to hear the verdict that the horse was poorly muscled, reflecting the way it had been worked, and that the horse was too expensive for what it was.

I am fairly sure a vet’s job is to determine whether a horse is sound or not. Certainly, I’ve never seen one in the saddle when at work. So I found myself wondering if the vet had simply fancied a jolly ride at the Billy Stud and, before I knew it couldn’t help but mutter, “you stick to your job and I’ll stick to mine!”

Ref Horse & Hound; 13 June 2019