It was history in the making when the United Arab won the Challenge Cup at the Longines FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final under the lights of the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona (ESP) this evening. They finished second-last of the 15 participating nations in yesterday’s first qualifier when collecting a total of 34 faults so looked way out of contention going into this competition reserved for the seven teams that didn’t make the cut into tomorrow night’s series title-decider.
But tonight they never touched a pole, and even more impressively they came out on top without having to call up their fourth team member. It was something of a walkover, with their three time faults leaving them six faults clear of the recently-crowned European champions from Ireland, while Team Brazil slotted into third with an 11-fault finishing score.
For Great Britain, riding under the title sponsor banner of NAF and under the guidance of World Class Performance Manager Di Lampard, it was a 5th place finish on 17 penalties; just one time penalty behind Spain who took 4th.
Pathfinder for the team Scott Brash riding the highly talented Hello Forever, an 11 year-old chestnut gelding owned by Lady Kirkham and Lady Harris, picked up 4 penalties when they touched a pole jumping into the double which was the penultimate obstacle on the course. For Scott and Forever, one of the most highly respected combinations on the top level international circuit, to accue penalties it certainly highlighted the task being asked of the horses and riders coming forward.
Guy Williams made the sensible decision to retire Rouge de Ravel, a 12 year-old bay stallion owned by S.C.E.A. de Lillebec, early on in the course when he jumped hesitantly into the combination. The stallion, who was only just stepping up to this level, had accrued penalties at the first fence and just didn’t look his confident self as he made his way around the start of the course.
William Whitaker with Utamaro d’Ecaussines, the 13 year-old stallion owned by Ludwig Criel, looked superb this evening. A brilliant clear round, one of only five achieved in the competition, saw them finish on zero jumping penalties but with one time penalty when they finished just outside the time allowed.
For the British anchor rider, Ben Maher with the 13 year-old mare Quilata owned by Poden Farms, it was a disappointing 12 penalty finish for them having jumped clear yesterday and being in contention for the €50,000 clear round bonus on offer. Whether it was the jumping under spotlights and the shadows that goes with that we wouldn’t know but it was an uncharacteristic three fences down for the impressively talented mare.
1. UAE – 3
2. Ireland – 9
3. Brazil – 11
4. Spain – 15
5. Great Britain – 17
6. New Zealand – 20
7. Italy - 26
Article Source: British Showjumping News
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