Team GB wins Team Jumping Gold at London 2012
Yesterday was another monumental day for Team GB at London 2012. Not only did they win a Team Gold in the Showjumping, but it was also the first Gold medal Great Britain has won in the sport for sixty years.
The second and final day of the Team Competition at Greenwich roused a wonderful atmosphere as the crowd prepared to see who would finish in the medal positions. Out of the eight teams that were coming forward from the day before, Great Britain began yesterday in fourth place. The other teams involved were Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, The Netherlands Sweden, Canada, Brazil, and USA.
The horses and their riders were pushed to their limits by the course, which was designed by Bob Ellis. The course was full of twists and turns and it also had 13 fences that required 16 jumping efforts.
Nick Skelton, the first combination for the British Team with the 9 year-old KWPN Stallion Big Star owned by Beverley Widdowson pulled out the first clear round of the competition with the most stunning performance. Lengthening, shortening and not once looking like the fences were going to be a problem for them, the home crowd were left under no illusion as to what a brilliant partnership and combined talent they are.
After his performance, Nick spoke about Big Star saying: “He is a freak, there really isn’t anything he can’t do. Long, short, he can do it all – he’s an absolute genius”.
Ben Maher with his own and Quainton Stud’s 10 year-old dark bay stallion Tripple X looked set to reproduce their clear rounds of the last two days. However, an unfortunate rolling of a pole incurred at fence 10 saw them return home with four penalties.
Ben spoke after his performance saying: “He felt the best he’s jumped today out of the last two days. He was finding it all quite easy and I was having to hold him back. It was always a long distance to fence 10 and I thought it was going to make it easy but I ended up a bit of a way off. It was unfortunate, but my horse was fantastic and one down isn’t a bad round. We now need a bit of luck”.
Hello Sanctos, a 12 year-old bay gelding owned by Lady Kirkham and Lord & Lady Harris, was being ridden by Scott Brash. It was the pair’s first Olympic Games and they entered the arena to a thunderous cheer and plenty of flag waving. The pair have only been competing together since the start of the year and their route to the Olympics has been pretty inspirational. And their performance yesterday, at the Games, was even more impressive, when they produced the most stunning clear round which had the spectators up on their feet stamping and cheering.
Talking about his round and his experience of being on an Olympic Team, Scott commented “Sanctos was amazing today. He didn’t fault and he’s just gone better and better; he has just been amazing. Being here has been fantastic, the crowd are unbelievable and I don’t think I’ll ever experience anything like this again. It really has been the best day of my life”.
The anchor for the team was Peter Charles, who was riding Vindicat W, a 12-year-old bay gelding jointly owned by Olga White, Tara Charles and Team Murka. Vindicat W seemed to be far more comfortable in the arena and produced a wonderful foot perfect round until the penultimate fence, a gate, which lowered accruing penalties. Coming through the time just slightly over the time allowed meant a time penalty also being accrued meaning a finish of 5 penalties.
After Team GB finished their rounds they had to wait nervously as The Netherlands completed their rounds. The Dutch competitors were the only team that could compete for Gold and the last rider from The Netherlands was Gerco Schroder. With Gerco having a fence down, Team GB were reliant on them having another fence or a time penalty to avoid a Jump Off for Gold. With Gerco keeping focused and jumping clear thereafter and within the time it meant that all team riders for both nations would be asked to jump again.
So, the course was shortened and the four riders from each team were ready to compete in the Jump Off, with the three best rounds to count.
The first competitor to attempt the Jump Off was Nick for Great Britain who yet again produced another stunning clear, which was all the more impressive when you consider that he had jumped clear across all the days of the competition so far. Ben Maher was next up for Team GB, following a Dutch rider who had just gone clear. However, Maher did not disappoint and he produced a foot-perfect clear in a very fast time, which added plenty of pressure onto the Dutch team.
With Maikel van de Vleuten who followed having 8 faults for The Netherlands, Scott entered the arena with tension mounting. An unlucky touch at fence 2, a vertical, saw them incur 4 penalties. The third Dutch rider, returned back with 4 penalties meaning that if Peter went clear the Gold medal in Showjumping would be coming back to Team GB for the first time in sixty years.
As Peter Charles entered the arena, the packed Grandstands knew the importance of this round and you could have heard a pin drop as the starting bell went.
With Vindicat W having got better and better each day growing in confidence in front of the enormous crowds, which had initially unsettled him, they pulled out all the stops and with everyone on the edge of the seats riding each fence with him, he jumped clear with the crowd erupting in their euphoria knowing that Great Britain had won the first Jumping Gold medal for sixty years.
RESULTS: Gold – Great Britain, Silver – Netherlands, Bronze – Saudi Arabia
Image courtesy of Kit Houghton.
European Jumping team claim gold
Great Britain’s Aachen Meydan FEI Nations Cup Team is Announced
Daniel jumps for joy after Grand Prix success
Scottish teenager punches and throws rocks at horse
Radio 1 DJ injured in horse riding accident
Punter wins £210,000 from 1p horse race bet