The British team ruled victorious at the home leg of the new FEI Eventing Nations Cup series, held at the Subaru Houghton International Horse Trials (24-27 May).
The team of Francis Whittington, Mary King, Sarah Cohen and Piggy French finished on 132.5 penalties, beating the Australian team into second place by a margin of almost 30. Piggy also topped the individual leaderboard of the CIC three-star competition, riding Jakarta.
Local girl, Piggy, who is hoping to make her Olympic début next month said that it was great to be out competing after the run of cancellations due to the bad weather.
“It’s been difficult to keep Jakata right mentally and physically with so many cancellations. But today he went really well without a big effort, he was on his game and in a different league.
“Houghton is an amazing venue – I get so much support here as it’s near home. It was great to be part of a winning British team and I’m really hoping that having performed well under pressure, we can go all the way to the Olympics."
Many overseas riders are currently based in Britain in preparation for the Olympics. This coupled with the fact that both Badminton and Chatsworth were abandoned meant there was an impressive turnout at Houghton, with seven countries taking part in the Nations Cup.
Team GB certainly made up for their poor performance in the first leg of the series at Fontainebleau in March, where they came last. Even counting the discarded score of Mary King and Kings Temptress, who took it easy across country, they would still have retained the top spot.
“This has been a great competition,” said Britain’s team trainer Yogi Breisner. “This new FEI Nations Cup for Eventing is great for the sport. I’m pleased my strong team didn’t let us down on home soil. Britain’s potential Olympic squad was out in force in this CIC3* section after nearly two months without competing, and they did extremely well.”
Germany took third place with 162.3 penalities, while New Zealand finished fourth with old-timer Mark Todd leading his less experienced team mates. Mark was in the lead after the dressage riding NZB Campino, but two time penalties on the cross country cost him the individual competition by just 0.2 of a penalty.
Following this second stage of the six-leg series, Britain is now in equal third place with Spain. The remaining four fixtures are Strzegom (Poland) on 1-3 June, Aachen (Germany) on 3-8 July, Montelibretti (ITA) on 21-23 September, with the final leg in Boekelo (The Netherlands) on 11-14 October.
For action and interviews from Subaru Houghton International Horse Trials, watch Rudall's Round-up on Monday 4 June at 8.30pm