No complaints as Britain retain Nations Cup

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The Independent Online
Geoff Billington and It's Otto jumped a double clear round for the second consecutive year in the British Nations Cup, once again contributing to a home victory in this annual team contest. The only other double clear came from Holger Wulschner on Capriol, but the German had no back-up from his team-mates.

The Irish gave Britain some concern in the second round with just half a time fault from Peter Charles on Dolly, followed by clear rounds from Tom Slattery on Coille Mor Hill and Trevor Coyle on Cruising. The threat evaporated when Eddie Macken, last to go for Ireland on FAN Schalkhaar, hit the third fence and retired.

Though victory was already assured, Michael Whitaker jumped a second round on Virtual Village Ashley for the benefit of the Queen, who was watching from the royal box.

There were other incentives. The clear round Ashley achieved at his second attempt earned points towards the new Samsung award for the leading rider in Nations Cups. It also gave the horse and rider combination points for the new British International Team Trial series.

The British Nations Cup had moved to Windsor for the first time after the cancellation of this month's meeting at Hickstead, where it had been held since 1975.

The new organisers were not helped by the overnight deluge, which resulted in sticky going in the main arena, but it was, nevertheless, a good Nations Cup though, in the absence of many of the world's leading riders, not a vintage one.

Ronnie Massarella, the British team manager, had no complaints. All his riders had performed well: Nick Skelton with a single error in each of his two rounds on Showtime, Billington with his double clear, Robert Smith with just one mistake each time on Senator Tees Hanauer plus three-quarters of a time fault in his first round, Michael Whitaker with a single first- round error on Ashley.

Smith, who suffered the loss of his brilliant young stallion Big Time who died after an attack of colic last month, at least had the satisfaction of becoming the leading rider of the show.

Out in the Great Park, the 62-year-old Cumbrian driver, George Bowman, lost his chance of a 12th victory in the horse teams section of the Harrods International Driving Grand Prix on Saturday, when his vehicle was caught up in the fourth hazard on the marathon course. But his son, George Bowman IV, won the horse pairs section with two of the Cumberland cobs that had been part of his father's team last year.

Results, Digest, page 23