British riders were in fantastic form in Belgium over the weekend, winning the Nations’ Cup, Derby van Vlaanderen, Prijs Nashuatec and the Lummen Grand Prix, while Nick Skelton triumphed in the grand prix in Canada.
The outstanding performance at Lummen began in the Samsung Nations’ Cup of Belgium on Friday, when the team of Scott Smith (Cabri d’Elle) , Robert Whitaker (Ublesco), James Davenport (Florie du Moulin) and John Whitaker (Hugo du Heup) beat 11 other nations to the top prize.
Smith produced one of only two double clears in the competition, while Robert Whitaker picked up just four faults in each round. Both Davenport and John Whitaker collected five faults in the opening round, with Davenport being the discard score in the first round and John in the second round. This left the British team on a total of 17 faults, ahead of the home squad on 20 and Italy on 21.
Team manager, Clare Whitaker, was delighted with the team’s performance around the testing track and said: “They all rode really well. Scott jumped a super double clear and I’m very pleased with the others, particularly Robert’s young horse, Ublesco, who showed plenty of boldness to jump round what was a particularly big course.”
The Whitaker family controlled the Lummen Derby, with only the British father and son going through to contest the jump-off. John was first to jump on Lactic 2 and collected just a single time fault, but a clean sheet for Robert and Karina (pictured) saw youth triumph over experience on this occasion. Robert also won the Prijs Nashuatec speed class with Nathalita.
Britain’s domination of the show was ensured when Duncan Inglis added the Lummen Grand Prix to the list of British wins. Inglis, riding Sunkist, was the only rider to leave all the fences up in both rounds over a challenging track.
Ben Maher and Alfredo also reached the jump-off of the top 20 rounds, but after picking up a further nine faults to add to his one in the first round, he finished 12th overall.
John Whitaker, who rode his Nations Cup partner Hugo De Heup in the grand prix, said: “I had eight faults but this is the first grand prix I’ve done with him. He had an early mistake but I was trying to do a quick time to get into the jump-off and made one more. I’m not pleased with the result but I am quite pleased with the way he jumped. It was a really difficult course with no double clears and Duncan did well to leave the fences up.”
Meanwhile, Nick Skelton had a tremendous weekend in Spruce Meadows, Canada, where Arko jumped well to be placed third in the $60,000 Great West Life Cup, before pulling out all the stops to take victory in Saturday’s Canada One Grand Prix with a great double clear.