The Hickstead crowd witnessed a nail biting climax to the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at Hickstead with a head-to-head battle between Team Ireland and Team GBR.
The Irish team of Trevor Breen (Bombay), Richie Moloney (Freestyle De Muze), Michael Duffy (EFS Top Contender) and Anthony Condon (SFS Aristio) were on superb form to lift the Edward, Prince of Wales trophy. It was the fourth time in the history of this competition that Ireland has won, while Great Britain was denied what would have been their 37th win and their first home win since 2010.
“It’s obviously no surprise that the English and Irish were on top – the conditions were not easy but like everyone said the ground showed a lot of support and enabled us to have a good competition,” said Ireland’s chef d’equipe Rodrigo Pessoa. “In the jump-off we had the advantage of going after Great Britain and we could see what we had to do. Anthony did a superb job to bring it home.”
Britain and Ireland had been neck and neck from the start. In round one, Richie Moloney had gone clear while Trevor, Michael and Anthony each had just one fence down for Ireland. Britain had had a tougher task in round one, when pathfinder Scott Brash’s horse took aversion to the water and was eliminated after two refusals. It piled pressure on his three team mates, but Holly Smith and Amanda Derbyshire both finished on four faults apiece and William Whitaker gave Great Britain a boost when producing the home nation’s only clear in round one. Belgium were close behind on nine faults, last year’s winners Brazil tied with Sweden and the Netherlands in fourth with 16 faults while Italy sat at the bottom of the leaderboard with 17 faults.
Things unravelled for the Netherlands in the second half when Johnny Pals added 23 faults to their tally, so they retired into seventh place. Britain’s Scott Brash had no more luck getting Hello Shelby over the water in the second round, so once again Team GBR was down to three riders.
Ireland’s first two riders, Trevor and Richie, both finished on four faults while Michael went clear. Amanda Derbyshire gave Britain a clear while Holly and William both knocked one fence down, so the teams were tied on 16 faults each. Ireland’s Anthony Condon would have had to jump clear to give Ireland the win, but when he also faulted it meant the two teams would have to jump off.
Holly Smith, who has superb form at Hickstead, was elected to jump against the clock with the talented Hearts Destiny. She delivered a perfect clear in a time of 43.39sec to keep British hopes alive. But Anthony Condon and the 12-year-old SFS Aristio got home more than 2sec faster in a time of 41.29sec to give Ireland the win.
“I got to see Holly’s round, and her horse has got a big stride and is quite fast, but my horse is very fast so I had to go at his pace, and it worked,” said Anthony. “He tried his heart out and was very quick to the last but he’s very careful so I could keep going.”
Britain’s Holly Smith said: “I think if we’d had four team members all jumping we’d have won it but that’s horses – they’re unpredictable and it does happen.”
Last year’s winners Brazil had to settle for third place, although their anchorman Marlon Modola Zanotelli did win the £50,000 bonus for jumping the only double clear on Sirene De La Motte.
The Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain brought Hickstead’s international season to a close. The next national fixtures are the two-day Hurstpierpoint College National Schools and Pony Club Jumping Championships (1&2 August) and the All England Jumping Championships (30 August – 2 September).