Britain fade in France

11 May 2012 / 20:21

Great Britain's showjumpers faded after a promising start as their FEI Nations Cup campaign began in disappointing fashion on the west coast of France.

The British quartet of Nick Skelton, Guy Williams, Peter Charles and Ben Maher shared fifth spot with Ireland and Switzerland at the traditional La Baule Nations Cup opener, near Nantes. British number one Skelton, a strong London Olympics medal contender, was outstanding on Big Star, jumping clear in both rounds of the eight-team event.

But only Charles and Murka's Vindicat W could match him in the clear round stakes, and that was round one only, as Britain dropped from third at the halfway stage. Charles had four faults in the second phase, while Williams (Depardieu vant Keizelhof) collected four and then eight, with Maher (Tripple X III) posting four faults in each round.

Belgium took top spot after a jump-off against Holland. Dutch rider Albert Voorn had four faults in 44.16 seconds on Tobalio, and while Gregory Wathelet also knocked one fence down aboard Euphony, his time was more than two seconds quicker.

Sweden finished third, inspired by three clear rounds from the Fredricson family - Peder Fredricson, his wife Lisen and brother Jens - with Nations Cup holders Germany fourth. Hosts France, though, were eighth despite Penelope Leprevost's double clear on Topinambour, and they will hope to improve when the series moves to Rome in two weeks' time.

"When you come out with a team it goes without saying that you are coming out to win," Great Britain team chief Rob Hoekstra said. "Today wasn't our day, but we shouldn't ignore the fact that we produced some great performances from all of the horses.

"In particular, from Nick and Big Star, who secured one of the double clears of the competition, along with the clear from Peter with Murka's Vindicat W on their debut appearance at this level."

Hoekstra added: "Nick is riding fantastically well, and he's riding with two very good horses.

"He is the only rider we have with two possible Olympic horses, and that puts him in a very strong position.

"He is the ultimate professional in that he has had his planning towards peaking at the Games in place since last year. He has really targeted his horses at particular classes to produce them to peak at the big grands prix."