Great Britain’s team for the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, Spain, scored a dazzling victory in Saturday night’s Challenge Cup, the consolation round ahead of Sunday’s final decider.
But what was particularly exciting was the wealth of young talent among them and the confidence and horsemanship they displayed to succeed on the world stage.
Harry Charles (21), Emily Moffitt (23), Holly Smith (32) and reserve rider Jack Whitaker, who turns 20 next week, were joined on the squad by the legendary team stalwart John Whitaker who, at the age of 66, is three times the age of some of his team-mates.
But such was the class of the younger generation, the competition was won before John even had to jump under the floodlights on Saturday night.
“The three young ones really took care of me today!” said John. “They did an unbelievable job.
“Yesterday we were a bit disappointed – it didn’t really go to plan – but we were still fighting today, well they were fighting, and we pulled it off.”
John revealed that he made his debut at this historic show in Barcelona in 1984 – before any of his co-stars were born.
“The sport is getting so big and the Nations Cup is in danger of losing its status, but especially for us older riders we really appreciate them because back in the day Nations Cups were the most important competition,” he said. “We have to try to keep it like that.
“I’m happy to still be competing at my age at this level and to be with these guys – they gave me an easy day!”
Chef d’equipe Di Lampard expressed how proud she was to see her team win at this prestigious competition.
“It’s been progression and a new generation coming through,” she said.
While Holly Smith added: “We haven’t been having the best time, but I think I speak for everybody when I say we’re all so committed and things will change – this is hopefully the start of it.”
The Nations Cup Final concludes on Sunday afternoon (3 October).