GB showjumpers in medal contention

05 August 2012 / 16:27

Great Britain's equestrian showjumpers remain firmly on course for a first Olympic medal since 1984 after Nick Skelton and Ben Maher inspired an impressive team performance at Greenwich Park.

Skelton, Maher and Scott Brash also comfortably made the latest individual competition qualifying cut, with a further reduction on Monday taking a field of 35 into Wednesday's final.

Team medals will be decided on Monday, and Britain lie equal second overnight with Switzerland, Sweden and Holland on four faults, three penalties behind surprise leaders Saudi Arabia.

If the quartet of Skelton, Maher, Brash and Peter Charles maintain their form under intense pressure on Monday, then British showjumping's 28-year Olympic medal wait could be over. And there has also been nothing to suggest so far that neither Skelton, who is riding in his sixth Olympics, nor Maher will not strongly contest individual medals as well.

Skelton, riding the brilliant nine-year-old stallion Big Star, once again led from the front as Britain's spearhead, jumping an immaculate clear round.

"He felt amazing, he looked amazing, but he is amazing," Skelton, 54, said. "It was a nice course, and he is jumping unbelievably at the moment. He's got everything, and is in great condition.

"He hasn't got a negative that horse. He is the most perfect horse - he's a freak. As soon as he goes into the arena he just lights up. The crowd was unbelievable again today, and it certainly won't be their fault if we don't win."

Eight teams move into the second and decisive stage on Monday, but strongly-fancied France and Belgium are already out but Britain remain in fine shape, and Hertfordshire-based Maher, who was foot perfect on Tripple X III, said: "There is so much experience in our team.

"We are all staying focused on our own jobs, and if we can all do what we can do on an individual basis, then we are as good as any team. We wanted, in theory, to get two strong horses out with clear rounds at the start, and it couldn't have gone any better.

"I know my horse will improve. I can't guarantee he will jump clear every day, but I know he can still be better. I know we've got more there, and hopefully it can click into action tomorrow."