‘He’s a cool customer’: Nicola Wilson’s young campaigner storms home to boost British eventing team hopes

  • Britain’s number two Nicola Wilson and JL Dublin coasted round the European Eventing Championships cross-country track inside the time to strengthen the team’s grasp on gold.

    Deirdre Johnston and James and Jo Lambert’s 10-year-old gelding looked well within his comfort zone to stop the clock with 10 seconds to spare. The pair led after the first day of dressage on a brilliant score of 20.9 and stayed close-up in third, just 0.4 behind the eventual dressage leader, reigning champions Ingrid Klimke and SAP Hale Bob OLD.  They now head to showjumping in no lower than individual bronze.

    JL Dublin showed a huge amount of power and scope to frank his four-star winning form this year over this twisty track. He looked strong and fast, but just about biddable to Nicola’s requests to steady up where required. He has five-star written all over him, making this track look simple.

    “He was squealing with excitement and gave me a super ride from start to finish,” Nicola said. “This was a different test for him but he just kept galloping. You never know riding a young horse on the team for the first time, but he was a cool customer and really focused.

    “It walked and rode very intense, but it had a nice feel to it and was fair to the horses. It was fast and furious and felt like a four-star short.”

    Nicola was Britain’s third rider out on track following Piggy March and Izzy Taylor posting clears inside the time. Following her compatriots she took the long route at fence 6, which didn’t impact on the overall time. There have now been four riders clear inside the time, three of them Brits.

    “Dublin isn’t very blood but he’s fit and gallops and stays well. I knew [the time with the long route] was doable, and it was the advice of team orders.”

    German rider struggles to make the time at European Eventing Championships

    Germany were lying a close second to Britain overnight. Their first team rider, Andreas Dibowski and FRH Corrida, lying 11th after dressage, jumped clear but for 15.2 time-faults to drop them down the order.

    “She was fighting too much against me, I had a lot of problems especially in the last three minutes to prepare her for the technical questions, because she has a big gallop,” said Andreas. “She wanted to keep that gallop but you need to collect the horse, to find the right line, and that was difficult for me and wasted a lot of time.

    “I’m happy with the horse that she wants to jump everything, but if she could come back to me earlier and listen, it would be better for the time. So I’m happy about the clear round, but not the time – but I cannot change that.”

    France’s Gwendolen Fer was the first rider not to complete, which has delivered a blow to France’s medal chances as she was in 14th overnight on her 2017 Pau CCI5* winner Romantic Love. She was tipped out of the plate at double of brushes into water at fence 23 when the gelding left a leg.

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