Nick Skelton (pictured) threw down the gauntlet to those riders aiming to represent Britain at the Athens Olympics when he came close to pulling off a major victory the Amsterdam leg of the 2003/2004 FEI World Cup series this weekend.
A thrilling five-rider jump-off saw Nick and Arko, riding from the final slot, poised to give eventual winners, Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Shutterfly, a run for their money.
An excellent line to the upright at fence three saw them challenging for the lead, but despite their best efforts the British duo had to settle for runner-up spot behind Meredith.
Nick, who is concentrating on putting in good performances in the British squad selection venues of La Baule, Rome, Lucerne and Rotterdam, said: “I didn’t get the stride I wanted to the last fence so I think I lost it there.”
Course designer Rob Janssen, who is also the show’s director, came up with a clever World Cup track, which saw 11 riders share sixth place with one fence down.
“It was difficult today,” Meredith said afterwards. “The course was technical, big and long and asked lots of questions. I believe all World Cup classes should be like that so riders can be prepared for what they will meet at the final.”
She added: “I knew Nick was coming after me but I also knew I had done the best job I possibly could and it wasn’t possible to do better than that. Today my horse was jumping brilliantly and, as it turned out, my best was good enough to win”.
Wim Schroder’s lovely clear round in 36.10 seconds with Eurocommerce Montreal was good enough for third place, while Switzerland’s Christophe Barbeau and Querly Chin were considerably faster but picked up four faults at the second-last for fourth. Jan Tops and VDL Groep Roofs had two fences down to be placed fifth.
FEI World Cup leaderboard
1, Jos Lansink (BEL) 57;
2, Helena Weinberg (GER) 53;
3, Thomas Velin (DEN) 52;
4, Eric Van der Vleuten (NED) 51;
5, Marco Kutscher (GER) 50;
6, Michael Whitaker (GBR) 45;
7, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) 44;
8, Ludo Philippaerts (BEL) 42;
9, Peter Wylde (USA) 38;
10, Marcus Ehning (GER) 37.