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Britain’s last hopes for Nations Cup rest on experienced squad

The team for the last Meydan FEI Nations Cup round — at the Dublin Horse Show on Friday, 7 August — has been announced.

Britain’s hopes of staying in the show jumping “super league” rests on Ben Maher with Robin Hood, Tim Stockdale with Fresh Direct Corlato, Peter Charles with Murkas Pom D’Ami and Geoff Billington with Rosinus.

GB is lying in ninth place on 15.5 points, 4.5 points behind eighth-placed Belgium. If GB stays in ninth position after Dublin, the team will be relegated to the second tier — the promotional league — of the Nations Cup.

Show jumping team manager Derek Ricketts said that in order to avoid relegation: “We basically have to win, and the other teams have to do badly.”

He blamed the bad year on a shortage of horses to select from, adding: “You get these things — last year we finished second in the Nations Cup — there’s nothing we can do about it now.”

British team performance manager Will Connell said relegation would not necessarily affect government and lottery funding for the sport.

“Staying in the Nations Cup was an internal target for this year,” he said. “If we don’t, we’ll have to pull our trousers up, sit down and have a full review.

“But it’s not as simple as saying we didn’t achieve so there’ll be no funding. Funding is decided on a four-year programme for 2012 and will be reviewed at the end of next year.

“The results haven’t been brilliant, but we haven’t had top horses and that will be taken into account.”

Both Derek and Will denied rumours of a fall-out between team riders, but the performance manager said: “Not everyone is best friends, but whatever goes on doesn’t affect what happens in the arena.”

The top two teams from the second tier promotional league will be known after Barcelona on 20 September, and will swap places into the top league with the ninth and tenth-placed teams after Dublin.

For more comment on Hickstead and our Nations Cup hopes, see this week’s H&H (30 July, ’09)

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