It was a balmy evening at the Palm Beach Equestrian Centre in Florida as it played host, for the 18th year, to the FEI 4* Nations Cup competition. The course, designed by Ken Krome (USA), stood at 1.60m and was contested under floodlights in front of capacity crowds which had come out to enjoy the world class showjumping on offer.
Nine teams, consisting of four riders, came forward in the first round of competition which would see the highest placed six teams given the opportunity to progress to the second round. As always in a nations cup competition it was the three best scores for each team that counted; a format that always makes for great viewing.
The initial leg of the competition couldn’t have been more exciting with fortunes changing every few minutes as each rider came forward. It was Great Britain who took the early lead closing the first round on zero penalties with three clears in the bag. Hot on their heels were Brazil and Mexico who both finished on 4 penalties whilst Ireland sat just behind them on 5 penalties having picked up an expensive time fault along the way. Making up the six nations to come forward were Venezuela and Chile who both finished on 7 penalties. The nations falling by the wayside and not making the second cut were the USA, Canada and Argentina who had accrued 8, 9 and 18 penalties respectively.
For Great Britain it was a brilliant start to their Nations Cup campaign for World Class Performance Manager and Chef d’Equipe Di Lampard. First to go for the Brits, riding under the title sponsorship and branding of NAF UK, was Amanda Derbyshire from Lancashire with Luibanta BH, a 10 year-old bay mare owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC. Riding in the position of trailblazer certainly didn’t look to bother Amanda when she posted a flawless round within the time allowed to give a penalty free score for the team.
Emily Moffitt, who is based between Great Britain and the USA, was the next Brit to come forward. Riding the 11 year-old gelding Hilfiger van de Olmenhoeve owned by Poden Farms it was an uncharacteristic 13 penalty finish for them as a result of three fences down and a time penalty. Emily Mason from Gravesend in Kent certainly made her debut on a senior team a notable one when she delivered a superb clear to finish on zero penalties aboard Explosion W, a 9 year-old chestnut gelding also owned by Poden Farms.
It was Ben Maher, from Bishops Stortford, who took the role of anchor rider with Tic Tac, a 15 year-old bay stallion whom he jointly owns with Jane Forbes Clark. As we have become to expect with Ben, it was a truly masterful delivery when he put in a masterful clear within the time allowed to finish on zero penalties and secure the lead for Great Britain at the half way stage.
Great Britain really proved their worth in the second round when they held on to their early secured lead to claim the title as their own. For Amanda Derbyshire it was an unlucky 4 penalties when the top plank at the Rolex vertical lowered in what was otherwise a superb round.
Emily Moffitt came back into the arena with great determination putting in an outstanding performance to finish clear within the time to deliver a zero penalty score for Great Britain. Emily Mason certainly caught the attention of the commentators with them saying ‘her composure is unbelievable’ when she posted one of the few double clear rounds of the competition to give Great Britain another penalty free score in the bag.
Once again it was genius riding by Ben Maher, who also coaches Emily Moffitt, in his role of anchor rider when as the final competitor of the evening he gave Great Britain his second clear round of the evening to secure the victory.
Talking straight after Ben’s round and before the presentation Di commented “This has just been an amazing start to the year and I couldn’t be more pleased with them all. They have all delivered their corner giving tremendous performances and to say I am delighted would be an understatement”.
It was Ireland who finished in 2nd place on 5 penalties whilst Mexico took 3rd on 10 penalties. For full results https://pbiec.coth.com/
British Showjumping would like to thank NAF, title sponsors of the Senior Nations Cup Teams along with the Children, Junior and Young Rider teams.
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The GBR showjumping teams are supported by the British Equestrian Federation’s World Class Programme, funded by UK Sport through the National Lottery. The Programme focuses on identifying talent, developing potential and maximising medal-winning performances on the world stage.