British showjumpers’ success in Florida is promising

  • British Showjumping’s team performance manager Rob Hoekstra says he has been buoyed by recent results in Florida.

    With the deadline for Olympic selection less than three months away, Rob has been watching the action intently.

    Several leading riders decamped to Wellington, Florida, for all or part of the three-month Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), an experience Rob describes as “very positive“.

    He told H&H there had been “specific programmes” for each of the riders, which had, largely, gone to plan.

    Nick [Skelton] had huge success, winning nine classes from something like 27 starts,” said Rob.

    For Scott Brash, WEF was an opportunity to jump his new ride, Sanctos Van Het Gravenhof, over the big tracks.

    The 26-year-old enjoyed one of the biggest wins of his career, taking the $200,000 ( £127,806) FEI World Cup Grand Prix CSI**** on 10 March.

    But there was, Rob admitted, a “slightly disappointing” end to WEF for the British riders.

    In the $500,000 ( £314,000) grand prix finale, Sanctos had several rails down, while Nick hit the deck when Carlo put in an uncharacteristic stop.

    “Scott’s horse was very fresh,” said Rob.

    “With hindsight, he hadn’t jumped him enough. But that was one of the reasons for going – to educate,” he added.

    And there were good results for Tina Fletcher, with Ursula jumping well and Hello Sailor back to his best.

    Riders who didn’t fare so well were David McPherson, who suffered a blow when top horse Billy Bishop went lame. And Ben Maher’s Tripple X struggled with the conditions.

    “He wasn’t the same horse as he is at home,” Ben told H&H. “I think he was affected by the heat and the quarantine.”

    This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (12 April 2012)

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