Great Britain’s eventers have added yet another title to a truly remarkable season, winning the final leg of the 2021 FEI Eventing Nations Cup Series in Boekelo. The success makes it five wins out of the five for British riders in the international team competitions that they have contested in 2021.

Boekelo Nations Cup winners 2021
© FEI/Libby Law Photography

William Fox-Pitt and Grafennacht, James Rushbrooke and Milchem Eclipse, Izzy Taylor and Hartacker and Nicola Wilson and Coolparks Sarco have become the latest combinations to be members of a winning British eventing team this year, when taking the honours at Military Boekelo-Enschede last weekend.

It was a fantastic performance from start to finish, with all four riders placed within the top 20. William came out the best of Brits; finishing a close second behind the individual Champion, Sophie Leube and Jadore Moi for Germany. There was a fourth-place finish for Nicola and Coolparks Sarco, eighth for Izzy and Hartacker and twentieth for James, who put in great path-finding performance for the team on his Nations Cup team debut.

What made the result all the more impressive – and promising for the future – is that each of the horses are just nine-year-olds, taking the next steps in their eventing careers.

“It was a good competition round a very decent track and a decent show jumping course,” said Philip Surl, who was Technical Delegate at Boekelo. “Anyone that finished that competition and the horses have gone well, you’ve properly ticked a box. To have a team of nine-year-olds that can bring it home is very, very pleasing.

“The Dutch certainly know how to enjoy themselves on cross country day. If you’ve never been, it’s something to behold. There were thousands there – I think they were talking numbers of around 75,000 people – so there was a real buzz to it. It’s a proper growing up experience for those young horses and that’s very exciting for all of them in the future.

“It was nice for James to get his chance as well, an opportunity that he grasped with both hands. He went first for the team and did a really great job. For his first Nations Cup, he’s won in Boekelo with three great team members, so that’s awesome for him.”

This year’s FEI Nations Cup series has unfortunately been a victim of the ongoing effects of the global pandemic, with a number of the legs being re-arranged or cancelled. In the end five legs were successfully delivered but travel restrictions meant that the British riders have only been able to contest two of the legs. The 2021 FEI Eventing Nations Cup series title was won by Team Sweden, repeating their success for 2019.

Philip was chef d’equipe for the British team at the series opener at Houghton earlier in the year. “It is a shame that we were not able to get to one more leg because we could have potentially won the series as well – but we’ve won the two legs that we’ve been able to contest. I definitely think that we’re doing something right, especially if we’re producing another crop of nine-year-old horses.”

After such a landmark season It is certainly true that the future for eventing in Britain looks incredibly bright, with considerable strength in depth in the British squad.

“We have entered five senior team competitions this year at different levels and we’ve come out on top at all of them – so, from a performance point of view, you can’t really do anymore!”

Great Britain’s 2021 Eventing Team Roll of Honour:

FEI Nations Cup, Saracen Horse Feeds Houghton International Horse Trials (27-30 May)

Tom McEwen and Class Affair (12-year-old gelding, owned by Gleadhill House Stud Ltd)

Georgie Spence and Halltown Harley (15-year-old gelding, owned by Suzanne Doggett and the rider)

Mollie Summerland and Charly van ter Heiden (12-year-old gelding, owned by the rider)

Gemma Tattersall and Jalapeno III (13-year-old gelding, owned by Christopher Stone)

Olympic Games, Tokyo (30 July – 2 August)

Laura Collett and London 52 (12-year-old gelding, owned by Karen Bartlett, Keith Scott and the rider)

Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser (14-year-old gelding, owned by Fred and Penny Barker, Jane Inns and Ali McEwen)

Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class (14-year-old gelding, owned by Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan)

Travelling reserves – Ros Canter and Allstar B (16-year-old gelding, owned by Caroline Moore and the rider)

SAP Cup team competition, Aachen (17-18 September)

Kirsty Chabert and Classic IV (12-year-old mare, owned by John Johnston and Carole Somers)

Emilie Chandler and Gortfadda Diamond (12-year-old gelding, owned by Maria Doel’s Stud)

Laura Collett and Mr Bass (13-year-old gelding, owned by Keith Scott, Nick How and the rider) 

Zara Tindall and Class Affair (12-year-old gelding, owned by Gleadhill House Stud Ltd)

FEI Eventing European Championships, Avenches (23-26 September)

Ros Canter and Allstar B (16-year-old gelding, owned by Caroline Moore and the rider)

Kitty King and Vendredi Biats (12-year-old gelding, owned by Diana Bown, Sally Eyre, Samantha Wilson and Sally Lloyd-Baker)

Piggy March and Brookfield Inocent (12-year-old gelding, owned by John and Chloe Perry and Alison Swinburn)

Nicola Wilson and JL Dublin (10-year-old gelding, owned by Deirdre Johnston and James and Jo Lambert)

There was also an Individual Bronze medal for Sarah Bullimore and Corouet (10-year-old gelding, owned by the Kew Jumping Syndicate, Brett Bullimore and the rider)

FEI Nations Cup, Military Boekelo-Enschede (7-10 October)

William Fox-Pitt and Grafennacht (nine-year-old mare, owned by Amanda Gould)

James Rushbrooke and Milchem Eclipse (nine-year-old gelding, owned by the rider)

Izzy Taylor and Hartacker (nine-year-old gelding, owned by Camilla Behrens)

Nicola Wilson and Coolparks Sarco (nine-year-old gelding, owned by James Lambert OBE and Jo Lambert)

For more information on the Nations Cup, click here.

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