The British boys were the best today in the CSIO5* Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup in Gijon, Spain. Taking the lead after round one, Tim Stockdale, Joe Whitaker, Samuel Hutton and Robert Bevis kept it together in round two to beat the home heroes by one single penalty.
It was a tough track that waited for the riders. It counted twelve fences, that included a triple combination half way and then the water jump followed by a difficult line to a delicate vertical and and a massive oxer eventually two jumps later leading the riders to the final challenge which consisted of a combination with an upright set with a white plank on top and then one stride to an oxer. It was that very last combination that caused trouble again and again, and several of the riders had their hopes of a clear round stopped by one of the two – if not both – elements.
"We were all very happy this morning when we walked the course,” commented British Chef d'Equipe Tony Newbury. "It had a very nice feel to it and we all agreed we thought it would suit our horses."
And so it did. After round one, Great Britain was in the lead with a score of only four penalties followed by Canada on twelve and Switzerland on fourteen. The Netherlands and France were sitting tied in fourth with sixteen penalties, while Ireland, Egypt, Italy and Spain had seventeen each to proceed to round two. However, with only three riders on the team Egypt opted not to ride.
Coming from behind in round two, the Spanish home team put serious pressure on the British riders. Eduardu Alvarez Aznar delivered a clear on Fidux (Malito de Reve x Voltaire) and got company from both Gerardo Menendez on Cassino DC (Cassini I) as well as anchor rider Sergio Alvarez Moya who despite battling with fever and flu produced a clear round on Arrayan (Baloubet du Rouet x Grannus) to discharge Armando Trapote's score and leaving no room for error as Great Britain's last rider was to enter the ring.
The heat was definitely on for British anchor Robert Bevis on Courtney Z (Chellano Z x Major de la Cour). Tim Stockdale and Fleur de l'Aube (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Alcatraz) had four faults added to their score after a brilliant first clear round, while Joe Whitaker ended with the discharge score in both round aboard Lola V (Locarno 62) and when Sam Hutton who had been clear in round one had to see eight faults added the second time around aboard Happydam (Quidam de Revel x Narcos II) – there was no room for mistake from Bevis' side.
"Not too bad," Robert Bevis said about whether or not he felt the pressure coming in as last to go and the one who could secure a British victory. "Tim was helping me and he just said 'You know, you've got to jump clear and if you have one down we're second' so I did not feel too bad going in. I have a lot of confidence in my horse, he is a good and careful jumper and as long as I don't make a mistake he is normally on the roll. He jumped double clear in Dublin, and he is 15 so he has got plenty of experience."
That experience was a key factor today, and Bevis guided Courtney Z around with ease to keep all the fences intact and secure the victory for the British team. "I have had Courtney Z since he was seven. He is a great jumper; he knows what he is doing. He is careful, intelligent and has a big character!" smiled Bevis after when talking about his four-legged partner.
Another happy rider was Tim Stockdale: "It's fantastic to be back here in Gijon again, it is a fabulous event and today's sport was very tough but very fair. It was great to be part of such a fantastic team, with a team effort from all of us being able to work together and come out on top."
Third place went to the Dutch riders, who fought their way up with a second clear round from 25-year-old Doron Kuipers and Zinius (Nabab de Reve x Kannan) – a couple that really impressed today. As did only 17-year-old Sanne Thijssen who produced a brilliant clear in round two on the 9-year-old Captain Cooper (Namelus R x Corland). The future looks bright for the Netherlands.
This was the last leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup for this season, and closed off the Europe Division 2. As the two best teams, Ukraine and Spain have secured tickets for the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona in September.
Text and pictures © World of Showjumping
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