Equestrianism: Germany take team depth to new heights as Britain fall away

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The Independent Online

The Germans, fielding a completely different team from the quartet who won the European team title in Italy last week, were in close contention with the United States riders. Rene Tebbel settled the issue in Germany's favour with one time fault in the final round. The Netherlands finished 11 faults behind the US in third place, with Ireland in fourth.

Derek Ricketts, the manager of the Great Britain team, was left to talk about "a disappointing performance" yet again. He was, perhaps, clutching at straws when he talked about some of the difficulties: the gluey ground, the proximity of Hickstead to the European Championships, the large number of faults incurred overall. It was, of course, the same for everybody.

The great advantage for the Germans is their strength in depth: they sent four top-class riders - Alois Pollmann-Schweckhorst, Thomas Muhlbauer, Ulrich Kirchhoff and Tebbel - to the Hickstead event.

John Whitaker and his son, Robert, made disappointing starts for Britain in the first round, collecting 13 faults apiece. Mark Armstrong had the best score of nine faults and Nick Skelton the worst with 25 faults on Russel, which was looking around and spooking as soon as he came into the spacious Hickstead arena. The French withdrew after problems with their first two horses, leaving Britain in seventh place as they went into the second round. At least a clear from John Whitaker and a five-fault round from Armstrong helped them to advance to fifth place.

There was welcome good news from Pratoni del Vivaro in Italy, where Louise Saywell secured the individual title for Britain in the European Pony Show Jumping Championships. William Whitaker was also well placed, having finished fifth after a jump-off for the bronze medal.