Britain and Ireland both missed out on qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as the Bank of America Merrill Lynch-sponsored showjumping team competition finished this afternoon (Friday, 21 September) at the World Equestrian Games (WEG).
Britain finished in eighth. The lead-off horse, The Billy Stud’s Billy Buckingham, was tired today and had three fences down under William Funnell, plus a time-fault.
“Obviously it’s very disappointing, it’s not what we wanted,” said William. “It’s easy to make excuses but it’s not good enough.”
The next two rounds brought hope to Britain. Holly Smith hit top form with Hearts Destiny, who belongs to TJ Hall Limited, Holly and her husband Graham, and finished with just one time-fault.
“He was jumping the best he has all week and I let him down with the time-fault,” she said.
Amanda Derbyshire was over the moon to put in a clear for Britain with Gochman Sport Horse LLC’s Luibanta BH.
“I wasn’t nervous but I was a bit stressed because I knew every score counted after William and I didn’t want to let the team down,” she said.
William Whitaker stayed clear up to fence 11, but both that and fence 12 came down for him and Ludwig Criel’s Utamaro D’Ecaussines. Only a fault-free round would have pushed Britain up to sixth and secured the Tokyo 2020 ticket.
It was a similar story for Ireland, who finished seventh. Shane Sweetnam (Chaqui Z) had nine faults, with four apiece for Shane Breen (Ipswich Van De Wolfsakker), Paul O’Shea (Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu) and Cian O’Connor (Good Luck).
“I’m delighted for myself but we need clear rounds,” said Shane Breen. “I’d have liked to take a bit of pressure off the lads.”
Britain and Ireland will now have to try to qualify for the Olympics at next year’s European Championships.
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Horse & Hound’s bumper magazine reports from WEG will be in the issues dated 20 September (dressage and eventing) and 27 September (showjumping and para dressage).