Ireland won a closely contested Samsung Nations Cup here yesterday for the second year running, with three other countries in close contention until the final stages of the contest. To the disappointment of the spectators, they did not include the British team who had yet another dismal performance to finish in fifth place.
Until last year the previous Irish success in the British Nations Cup had been back in 1937 – but there has been no holding them since they returned to winning ways. The quartet of Peter Charles, Cian O'Connor, Kevin Babington and Dermott Lennon were well fancied to win this time, having taken the European team title last month in Arnhem and two other Nations Cups since then.
It was not, however, over until the last rider in the contest – Germany's Rene Tebbel on Radiator – jumped the final round. He needed to be clear to equal Ireland's total of 12 faults and he needed to be swift to beat them on time. Tebbel was fast enough but, when the planks at fence six fell, Ireland were already able to claim another fine victory. Germany, for whom Heinrich-Wilhelm Johannsmann jumped the only double clear round, finished ahead of the Netherlands, who were on the same 24-fault score as the United States but took the higher placing with faster times.
Britain could only finish fifth with 36 faults, despite a final flourish from Michael Whitaker (last to go for the team) who was clear on Virtual Village Prince of Wales at his second attempt. In the first round Scott Smith, a newcomer to the British championship team in Arnhem, had the best British score when Cabri d'Elle made a single error at the middle element of the treble. Scott had missed Friday's Grand Prix to keep the stallion fresh for today. "It's nice to win money, but I wanted to do a good job for my country and I didn't think I could do both," Smith said.
Cabri d'Elle had the same fence down in the second round and also had a foot in the water, leaving Smith on the same overall score as his two team-mates – Whitaker and Mark Armstrong on Elise. The biggest disappointment came from the usually reliable Abbervail Dream, who had 12 faults in the first round and 20 in the second with Di Lampard.
"I was hoping to put things right the second time, but it was just a nightmare," Lampard said, having made three jumping errors and incurred four faults for a circle after the water, with another four being added for time.
Lampard will have the horse blood-tested to see if there is any explanation for his lucklustre performance.
Royal International Horse Show (Hickstead, Sussex): Samsung Nations Cup: 1 Ireland 12 faults; 2 Germany 16; 3 The Netherlands 24; 4 United States 24; 5 Great Britain 36; 6 Italy 44. GB scores: Abbervail Dream (D Lampard) 12,20; Elise (M Armstrong) 8,4; Cabri d'Elle (S Smith) 4,8; Virtual Village Prince of Wales (M Whitaker) 12,0. Osborne Refrigerators Stakes: 1 Virtual Village First Samuel (M Whitaker, GB) clear, 74.55sec; 2 Traxdata Parcival (T Stockdale, GB) clear, 76.59; 3 Potsdam (H Johannsmann, Ger) clear, 77.14. Sussex Speed Stakes: 1 Garronturton Lady (D Lennon, Irl) 78.56sec; 2 Huntingtown (B Twomey, Irl) 79.33; 3 Virtual Village Hunter's Level (J Whitaker, GB) 79.58.Reuse content