Britain faces up to the Nations Cup challenge

  • SHOWJUMPING performance manager Rob Hoekstra is rallying his troops for the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup series ahead of the first competition in La Baule next month.

    Mr Hoekstra held a “closed-door” meeting with riders at the British Open to discuss tactics and has picked his team for the first fixture on 14 May.

    He told H&H: “It will be a huge challenge for us to stay in the competition this year and a battle to the end. It will take a real team performance from all our riders.

    “We could do with six more Nations Cup horses, but we are going to give it our best shot.”

    The Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) decision on 7 April followed months of wrangling between the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) and the sport’s governing body, the FEI.

    Team GB ended the series tied with Belgium and, after disagreements as to which country should stay in the league, the FEI demoted both. But the BEF fought relegation to the promotional league and CAS ruled in their favour.

    Ten teams will contest this year’s Nations Cup — France, Britain, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain and the USA. But only six can remain up at the end of the season and will be joined by two teams from the promotional league for 2011.

    BEF performance director Will Connell told H&H: “Winning our appeal is only the beginning of the challenges we face. We have to perform much better than we did last year and prove that Britain deserves its place at the top level.”

    Rider Geoff Billington told H&H: “It is fantastic news that we are back in the super league. In the build-up to 2012 we have to jump against the best in the world — and win.”

    This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (15 April, 2010)

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