Swedish team proves unstoppable in Hickstead Nations Cup showdown

Sweden continued their impressive form in the Longines Nations Cup series to sweep victory in the Hickstead leg on Friday (26 July).

The team only needed three of their four team members to jump to secure the win on a total of four faults at the Longines Royal International Horse Show.

Last year’s winners Ireland were drawn first to go and put in strong performances across the board to finish second on a score of eight, with Italy close behind on 10 faults.

Sweden, who won the Nations Cup on home soil at Falsterbo earlier this month (11 to 14 July), were the only team to finish on a clean sheet in the first round.

Fredrik Jonsson (Cold Play), Angelie von Essen (Luikan Q) and Peder Fredricson (Zacramento) produced foot-perfect rounds, meaning fourth team rider Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (Oak Grove’s Carlyle) had no need to jump.

“When I was told that Sweden had never won here I thought, ‘we’d better change that!’,” said Swedish chef d’equipe Henrik Ankarcrona. “Luckily, it all came through.”

The trio added just four faults from the second round, meaning nobody could catch them.

Ireland and Belgium were neck-and-neck going into the second round, with the final standing dependent on Irish team anchor Paul O’Shea and Imerald Van’T Voorhor jumping clear.

This was the first Nations Cup track for course builder Paul Connor and it was met with praise from the riders. Faults were spread across the 1.60m course, with the treble at four and the big oxer after the water catching out several.

Mr Connor said he was “very pleased” with how it rode.

“The questions I asked played their part, which was good, and faults came all over the course,” he said. “It is an honour to have been asked to design and build it and there’s a great support team for my first one.”

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Britain finished eighth, with mixed fortunes in their rounds, behind Germany, for whom Olympic eventing gold medallist Michael Jung was making his senior showjumping team debut.

The Rolex Grand Slam of eventing winner’s ride Fischerchelsea clipped the first part of the final double to finish on four faults in the first round, before jumping clear in the second.

The FEI Longines Nations Cup now heads to Dublin Horse Show (7 to 11 August) with the top seven teams in the series qualifying for the final in Barcelona (3 to 6 October).

For the full report from the Longines Royal International Horse Show, don’t miss next week’s issue of Horse & Hound — out Thursday (1 August)