There was more disappointment for Britain’s beleagured show jumping team when the squad of John Whitaker (Exploit Du Roulard); Robert Whitaker (Nicolette II); Mark Armstrong (Thesaura) and Nick Skelton (Russel) finished fifth in the Samsung Super League Nations Cup at Hickstead.
A combination of dead going after the rain that beset the early part of the show, and an uncompromising and up-to-height course, led to some cricket scores among the eight teams in round one.
The best British performance came from Mark Armstrong, who had two fences down, plus a time-fault, while John and Robert Whitaker collected 13 faults apiece. Nick Skelton produced the discard score after a round during which the grey stallion Russel lost concentration and booted out six fences.
There was also misery for George Morris’s American team when McLean Ward and his Athens team gold medallist Sapphire had a nasty fall at the penultimate double of water ditches. Mclean, who had spearheaded an American one-two-three in the earlier Osborne Refrigerators Chase, suffered a shoulder injury and was unable to jump in round two.
John Whitaker led this off with a fabulous clear on Exploit Du Roulard, while all the Brits improved second time around. But the damge was already done and they were able to move up only two places from seventh at the halfway stage.
The main battle was between the three remaining US riders and the all-conquering Germans. It all came down to the final round from Rene Tebbel, who kept his cool admirably to go clear on Quel Homme and take the honours for Germany by one fault.
“We are so lucky in Germany that we have many riders good enough for teams,” said chef d’equipe Sonke Sonksen, who did not tell Rene Tebbel that he had to jump clear for the German team to triumph.
“I had no idea,” agreed Rene. “But we had so many faults that I knew I had to try.”
Meanwhile in Italy, Britain enjoyed a great result when Louise Saywell and CJ’s Kemosabi became European individual pony show jumping champions. The team goes for glory on Sunday.