Great Britain clinched a hard-fought Sunshine Tour Nations Cup victory on Friday (29 October) at Vejer De La Frontera in Spain.
The four-man squad of Joe Clayton (Gentlemen VH Veldhof), Alex Thompson on Cathalina S, Karl Robins riding Equine America G Camille HBF and Matt Sampson with Geneve R combined for an impressive performance, finishing on a score of just two penalties to top a field of 20 nations.
The top eight teams had progressed to round two with the British team leading the way with Spain on a zero score. Pathfinder Joe Clayton is new to the saddle of the 15-year-old Gentlemen VH Veldhof (Quite Easy x Calido) owned by Unex Competition Yard and they collected eight faults in round two on their British team debut together. Nottinghamshire-based Alex, jumping in only his second senior Nations Cup, produced a super double clear, just picking up a time-penalty, while Karl Robins helped keep Great Britain in contention by also remaining faultless.
It came down to final rider Matt Sampson, who needed a clear or three time-faults at the most, to ensure a British victory. He and the talented 10-year-old Dutch-bred gelding brushed off any pressure and powered round for their second clear of the day, clocking up just one time-fault, and an ecstatic team was able to celebrate victory in this hard-fought Sunshine Tour Nations Cup.
“We had such fantastic team spirit here today which saw them all work so well together,” said Di Lampard, world class performance manager. “There were some outstanding performances; Karl at only his second Nations Cup produced his second double clear. Alex and Matt were both unfortunate to get a second-round time penalty apiece in what was otherwise a great two rounds for each of them.
“I’d also like to add that Matt showed great maturity in the way he approached the final round as our anchor rider to clinch the win. It’s been a superb afternoon for British showjumping today,” added Di, who also led Great Britain to victory in Spain earlier in the month in the Challenge Cup at the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona.
Brazil finished in second in this Sunshine Tour Nations Cup with four penalties, while Sweden and Switzerland tied for third on nine points.
Great Britain’s Alex Thompson went on to finish runner-up to Frenchman Cedric Hurel (Fantasio Floreval Z) in the Suzuki grand prix, which wrapped up the four-week tour. The winner took the exciting 1.55m class after a six-way jump-off, with Alex and the 12-year-old Catoki mare Cathalina S chasing them home just 0.67sec behind.
“It was a fairly difficult track that needed to be ridden carefully, especially the last line of fences where there were a lot of faults,” said the winner.
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