Bittersweet victory for Spain; GB third in Nations Cup

Spain bounce back from the cruellest of blows on Thursday, while Great Britain's performance manager reflects on a third-place finish

The Spanish showjumping team claimed a bittersweet victory in Saturday night’s Challenge Cup in Barcelona, Spain.

Having missed out on a spot in Sunday’s Nations Cup Final by less than half a second in Thursday’s opening round — and with it their chance to secure a place at next year’s Olympics — the Spanish quartet returned with real determination for a buzzing evening of sport under the floodlights.

The final combination to jump, Sergio Alvarez Moya and Jet Run, needed a clear round to ensure victory and the Spaniard shrugged off the expectation of his nation around him to claim a momentous win, relegating the Netherlands to second. The packed arena erupted as he cleared the final fence.

“Our goal was to qualify for the Olympics and unfortunately we didn’t do that,” said the Spanish chef d’equipe Marco Fuste. “But to win a Nations Cup here in itself is a great thing. So it’s bittersweet.”

Joining Sergio on the podium were Alberto Marquez Galobardes, Eduardo Alvarez Aznar, who also jumped clear on Rokfeller De Pleville Bois Margot, and Santiago Nunez Riva.

The Challenge Cup is a consolation class for the nine teams who failed to qualify for Sunday’s final and the Netherlands, who finished on eight points, finished runners-up behind Spain’s four-fault total.

Great Britain was one of three teams to tie for third on 12 points, alongside USA and Brazil, followed by Japan, Mexico, Norway and Egypt in the order.

Holly Smith and Hearts Destiny produced yet another dazzling clear for the squad, while Amanda Derbyshire and Luibanta BH picked up four faults. Ellen Whitaker and Arena UK Winston were the discard score of 16, while anchorman Ben Maher, who was drafted in with the nine-year-old F One USA, came home with eight faults.

“It was unfortunate tonight – we could have been closer,” reflected Great Britain’s performance manager Di Lampard.

“But coming to the Nations Cup Final is like a Championships so we’ve learned a lot about the horses and riders we have and we know exactly where we stand for next year.”

The Longines FEI Nations Cup concludes on Sunday, where the top eight teams line up for victory as well as the chance for an Olympic qualification spot, for which Ireland, Italy and Colombia will be battling it out.

Don’t miss the full report and reaction from Barcelona in next week’s Horse & Hound, out Thursday 10 October.

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