Britain has won its home leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup series at Hickstead for the first time since 2010, finishing on a team total of just four faults, with Ireland taking second position and France third.

The team, combining experience and youth, comprised of Ben Maher (Exit Remo), Tim Gredley (Medoc De Toxandria), John Whitaker (Equine America Unick de Francport) and Harry Charles (Casquo Blue). The last time Britain won the Hickstead Nations Cup in 2010, when Harry’s father Peter Charles had been on the winning team, and he was there to witness his son match his feat.

“It’s my first Nations Cup win, and I’m so happy for all the boys, and for Di [Lampard, Britain’s chef d’equipe],” said Harry. “I think for months this has been our goal, so when a plan comes together like it did today, it’s a real sense of achievement. It’s a really special day.”

John said the team had “good vibes” all week, and had felt quietly confident.

“The first time I came to Hickstead was in 1970 or ’71 with a pony,” he said. “But today was – after all those years – probably the best day.”

Di said the range of riders in the team was a recipe for success, and admitted shedding a tear at the result.

“It’s ideal when you get this combination of experience and youth,” she said. “When we have Ben leading us out, it gives us all a great spring in our step to start with – we’ve all got confidence in him to go out first wherever we’re drawn. It was fabulous to have him in the team this week. Tim’s come to the top with us this year; he’s been in the winning team several times, so it’s absolutely fabulous. My third member John clinched it for us – his reputation goes well before him. And I’m so proud of Harry. Twice now, he’s been my anchor rider and delivered so well. I couldn’t be more pleased for him. At this age, he’s showing such a maturity.”

It was the first time Tim had been on a team at Hickstead, and he reflected on his time at the world-famous showground.

“I used to come here when I was doing working hunter classes – and one of the reasons I got into showjumping is because of watching the likes of John riding on the team here when I was 13 or 14,” he said. “To actually be here jumping on a team with him, Ben and Harry was a bit of a surreal experience.”

Olympic champion Ben Maher added that it was an “amazing team to be part of, and an amazing day”.

In the first round, France, Great Britain and Ireland shared the lead on just four faults each. However, in round two Ireland was delivered a blow when Shane Breen picked up eight faults and second rider Mark McAuley was eliminated following his round. Clears from Jack Ryan and Daniel Coyle meant the team finished in the runner up spot on 12 faults. France took third with 16 faults, with Sweden fourth, the USA in fifth and Germany, Brazil and Italy completing the line-up.

Britain has now sits in third position in the European Division One leaderboard, behind Germany and Switzerland, with the next leg of the series in Dublin in August.

Lead image by Helen Cruden

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