‘A brilliant way to finish’: meet the 21-year-old who jumped clear for Great Britain in Nations Cup Final

  • One of the heroes of Great Britain’s showjumping squad in action at the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, Spain, (28 September-1 October) was 21-year-old Lily Attwood and her 13-year-old gelding Cor-Leon VD Vlierbeek Z.

    The pair bounced back from a 12-fault performance in Thursday’s opening leg, which Great Britain won, to jump one of only nine clears over Santiago Varela’s imposing track in Sunday’s final.

    Great Britain finished seventh to victors Germany in the end, but Lily was “thrilled” with her result and Cor-Leon, who is looked after by Niki Javorkova, received plenty of appreciative pats from his rider after the finish line.

    “It’s great for my horse – we haven’t had the easiest year, so to finish like that was brilliant,” said Lily, who now trains in Belgium with Great Britain’s team technical expert and triple Olympian Stanny van Paesschen.

    “Cor-Leon had a couple of relapses of his colic, just mild symptoms, but he’s feeling better than ever now.

    “He jumped really well on Thursday, he felt super. I just made a mistake to the oxer and the other mistakes followed as a result [for 12 faults down the final line]. So I didn’t change anything between then and Sunday because he felt fantastic. I just made sure I rode better!

    “Nations Cup-wise, I’ve only done Barcelona last year and this year, so I’m thrown in the deep end! But to have a clear round is great for the whole team.”

    Lily Attwood: from pony teams to Nations Cup Final

    Lily is a former medalist for Great Britain while riding ponies and she made a rapid ascent into the top tier of the sport under the expert tutelage of Guy Williams. She contested her first five-star show at the age of just 19 and has landed plenty of big classes since. This was her second time representing Great Britain in the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona.

    Lily has ridden her mother Emmy’s Belgian-bred Cor-Leon VD Vlierbeek Z (Calvaro FC x Omar) for four years, but the super gelding underwent major colic surgery a year ago. The pair returned to win their first five-star class this year, but careful management is now required after he suffered some mild relapses.

    “He has a very complex diet now – everything is weighed to the gram,” said Lily. “He gets fed throughout the day, spread out in small batches, and we’ve removed the starch completely. But he’s genuinely never felt better in the four years I’ve had him. He seems to be building muscle more easily, he’s fresher and happier for it. But he’s definitely high-maintenance!”

    Lily began training with Stanny at the start of the year, moving to his Belgium base in April, and credits him for being “a great trainer”. Chef d’equipe Di Lampard was full of praise for the youngest member of the British squad competing in the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona.

    “She’s very capable. It’s all coming together for her,” she said.

    Lily’s string of horses are all en route to Vilamoura, Portugal, now for the start of the autumn tours but Cor-Leon will be having a well-deserved rest for the coming weeks.

    “If we can get into the London International Horse Show we’ll bring him back for that, then he’ll be quiet again at the start of next year, hopefully coming back ready for some more Nations Cups,” said Lily.

    “Fingers crossed 2024 is going to be a good year.”

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