Sweden win Nations Cup opener while Brits withdraw amid weather woes: ‘The conditions were out of our control’

  • Sweden has won the opening leg of the Longines FEI Nations Cup series (division one) at St Gallen in Switzerland (6 June), while poor weather resulted in the British team’s withdrawal after the first round.

    Germany and Sweden tied on 13 faults after the first two rounds, meaning the final result went to a jump-off.

    Rolf-Goran Bengtsson was chosen to go against the clock in the third round for Sweden aboard his 12-year-old stallion Ermindo W. The pair landed clear over the final oxer, setting the time to beat at 43.5 seconds.

    Germany’s third round pair of Christian Kukuk and Mumbai set off with intent, but took their foot off the gas after tipping the third fence and added a single time-fault to their jump-off total.

    This gave Sweden its first St Gallen Nations Cup victory, with Douglas Lindelow (Casquo Blue), Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (Ermindo W), Evelina Tovek (Winnetou De La Hamente Z) and Malin Baryard-Johnsson (H&M Indiana) making up the winning side.

    Germany finished second, with home side Switzerland third.

    “We have never won the Nations Cup here and my riders were fantastic today,” said Swedish chef d’equipe Henrik Ankarcrona.

    “The organising committee did a great job for the second round, taking the time to have a longer break to take care of the footing and it turned out very well.”

    The Team NAF British squad of Holly Smith (Denver XI), Harry Charles (Romeo 88), William Funnell (Equine America Billy Diamo) and Scott Brash (Hello Senator) decided to call it a day after the first round, rather than continue in deteriorating conditions.

    “This show starts our season and with some of the team here today heading straight to La Baule next week for another Nations Cup competition shortly followed by Sopot we made the decision to withdraw,” said Di Lampard, World Class performance manager for showjumping.

    “The conditions were out of our control and not the best today and we are now looking ahead to next week and the rest of the season as it winds its way to the Tokyo Olympic Games and the European Championships.”

    Holly was the first of the British team to jump, with the 13-year-old gelding Denver XI clipping one pole. William Funnell and Equine America Billy Diamo collected an uncharacteristic nine penalties towards the end of the course, with the rain and heavy going an influential factor.

    Harry Charles and Romeo 88 produced a standout performance, leaving all fences untouched. The pair took it steady, owing to the ground conditions, leaving them with one time-penalty.

    Team anchor Scott Brash retired Hello Senator part-way round.

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    Although the Nations Cup was not the Brits’ day, the squad had success across the rest of the week.

    Scott finished second in Friday’s grand prix with Hello Vincent and fourth in a 1.45m jump-off class earlier that day aboard Hello Forever. Harry Charles won the 1.50m speed class on Saturday morning with Valkiry De Zance, and Harry also finished third in the 1.50m grand prix qualifier on the opening day (Thursday, 3 June).

    William took home a host of top-six finishes; sixth in the 1.40m class on the first day on the homebred Billy Alpen, with whom he also finished fourth ahead of Scott, in the Friday’s 1.45m jump-off class and second in Sunday’s 1.45m speed contest.

    Holly and the eight-year-old Billy Sarafina jumped double clear and stopped the clock more than two seconds ahead of nearest rivals Christian Kukuk and Zineday to win the Youngster Cup Final on Sunday.

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