Ireland has beaten old rival Great Britain in a two-way jump-off in the Longines FEI jumping Nations Cup at Hickstead.
Conditions at the Royal International Horse Show were far from ideal, with wild winds and the first heavy rain for more than 50 days. As a result, many of the world’s best riders struggled to jump clear.
The tall white gate at three was a real bogey fence, as was the open water, which saw former world number one and Olympic gold medallist Scott Brash eliminated in both rounds on Hello Shelby.
However, Holly Smith (Heart’s Destiny), Amanda Derbyshire (Luibanta BH) and William Whitaker (Utamaro D’Ecaussines) showed true grit to draw equal first with Ireland on eight faults.
This meant there was a jump-off to decide the winners. Holly was the designated jumper for Team GB, and the 29-year-old set the target with a lovely clear in a time of 43.39 seconds.
Anthony Condon (pictured), who has been based in England for the past 14 years, was jumping for the boys in green. His rode a great round with the 12-year-old stallion SFS Aristio, to break the beam more than two seconds faster.
“Holly is a very fast rider and her horse has a huge stride so she can be deceptive — I just thought that if I could do the same and be a little quicker then I could catch her,” he said.
Brazil finished third, Sweden fourth and the Belgians – long-time Europe division one leaders – had to settle for fifth ahead of Italy. The Dutch team withdrew with a second-round tally of 23 faults.
Ireland has now moved up to third place on the Europe division one leaderboard and secured their place in the Longines 2018 final in Barcelona in October
The Irish have another big day to look forward to when the series concludes on home turf in Dublin on August 10.
Britain and Italy will be desperate to score valuable points and move out of the danger zone at the bottom of the league table, as only seven of the 10 competing nations will make the cut for the Barcelona final.
Watch classes from the Royal International Horse Show on H&C by signing up to Horse & Country now. Here’s what’s on, when:
RIHS 2018: Queen Elizabeth Cup jumping Sunday August 5 at 8pm (all times EST)
RIHS 2018: British Speed Classic jumping Wednesday August 8 at 7pm
RIHS 2018: Supreme Ridden Championship showing Sunday August 12 at 7.30pm