Essex Showjumper Dan Neilson Helps Team GBR Win St Gallen Nations Cup

Dan Neilson from Chigwell, Essex with Stacy Willsone’s 12 year-old chestnut gelding Varo M helped Team GBR win the fourth leg of the 2014 FEI Furusiyya Nations Cup series  held St Gallen, Switzerland on Friday 30th May.  Their victory made it the second year running that GB have claimed the title as their own; a victory that World Class Showjumping Performance Manager, Rob Hoekstra, couldn’t have looked any more pleased with when he walked his team into the arena for the prize giving. 

Dan and Varo M acted as pathfinder for the team and their first round proved to be the discount score with three fences having been lowered and a 12 penalty score being added.  This was only Varo M’s second experience at 5* Nations Cup Level with Dan also still being relatively new on Top Level teams. Dan competed alongside Spencer Roe from Lincoln with his mother Sally’s 11 year-old bay gelding Wonder Why, Robert Whitaker, from Sidcup, Kent with his parents (John & Clare) 11 year-old brown stallion Catwalk IV,  Anchor for the team came in the form of experienced team rider Guy Williams from Canterbury, Kent and he was riding the 10 year-old bay gelding Zaire who is owned by Caroline Phillips

At the end of the first half, Great Britain had secured themselves into the lead as a result of some brilliant performances and the team finished on just the 1 penalty to take the lead at the halfway stage.

The second round was almost copy book and couldn’t have played out any better for GB.  Varo M, certainly looked to have learnt from his experience in the first round and appeared to be a different horse in the second.  Taking all the fences in his stride, he couldn’t have tried harder for Dan to return home clear, within the time allowed to finish on a zero penalty score.

Finishing on just 3 penalties across both rounds, Team GBR managed to hold on to their lead despite Spain having been hot on their heels throughout the competition, Sweden took 3rd place on 10 penalties with home nation Switzerland finishing in 4th on 14 penalties.

Talking afterwards Rob Hoekstra commented “To say we are delighted would be an understatement.  As a non-point scoring leg of the series for us we came out with a team of younger horses to give them experience of competing at this level along with some younger riders who are still very much cutting their teeth on senior teams.  To win today, once again shows the world what tremendous talent we have across all levels within the sport.  There wasn’t one horse or rider that wasn’t superb – they all put in brilliant performances and I am honoured to be here with them today”.