‘Unfortunately it wasn’t our day’: British pathfinder takes centre stage at the European Showjumping Championships

  • The first team rider for Great Britain, Sam Hutton riding the 12-year-old stallion Oak Grove’s Laith, came home with eight faults on day one of the European Showjumping Championships in Milan, Italy (30 August – 3 September).

    Faults came thick and fast in the opening rotation of riders and throughout the day from the 15 nations in action over an inviting track set by Italian course designer Uliano Vezzani. Sam, 34, who was acting as pathfinder in his first ever championship, looked to be producing an excellent round with the powerful 12-year-old London stallion to the midway point.

    However, they just tapped out a late vertical behind, before accumulating further faults at the penultimate fence, the FEI oxer. With faults being converted to seconds to add in this first qualifying competition for team and individual athletes, Sam’s 77.34 seconds with eight faults to add became 85.34sec, which put the combination into the top 10 at an early stage. The pair finished the day in 53d place individually behind leaders Jens Fredricson and Markan Cosmopolit, while the Great Britain team go through to day two in 10th position, three fences behind highest ranked Sweden.

    “It was really annoying because he was jumping so well until there – unfortunately it wasn’t our day today,” said Sam, who is based in Belgium with leading showjumper Abdel Said. “Oak Grove’s Laith felt really good in the ring and actually, I must say I had a really good feeling with how he’s jumping. So I’m looking forward to tomorrow and the next day.”

    European Showjumping Championships: “It’s taking a bit of jumping”

    Sam continued: “I think the first fault was actually really unlucky. I don’t know if he was anticipating the turn a little bit because he just clipped it behind and then, at the rollback, he slightly rubbed it in front.”

    According to Sam, Uliano Vezzani’s track, featuring successive doubles and a late double of oxers towards the end is “taking a bit of jumping”, but he said the atmosphere in the British team camp was “really good”.

    “Everyone’s very motivated and positive and it’s a really nice team so I’m looking forward to the rest of the week,” said Sam, who will be followed by Tim Gredley (Medoc De Toxandria), Ben Maher (Faltic GB) and Harry Charles (Casquo Blue) on the British team during day one of the European Showjumping Championships, while Donald Whitaker and Di Caprio are competing as individuals.

    “On the first day the horses are always a bit like ‘Oh this is a new arena’ and getting used to everything. But luckily the sun shining and hopefully it stays like that.”

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