The Junior team, under the watchful eye of Chef d’Equipe Tony Newbery, put in some outstanding performances on 8th April 2019 in the Junior Nations Cup at Sentower Park in Opglabbeek to claim the title after a two-way third round jump-off.
Competing under the sponsor banner of Team NAF, the four-strong squad were robust from the start with two of the four jumping clear in the first round and the team having to carry just 4 penalties through. This saw them sit in joint 2nd place, after all eleven nations had jumped in the first round, alongside Belgium and Ireland whilst Germany held the lead on a zero-penalty score.
The second round saw GBR pick up 8 penalties in the second round putting them on a par with Germany prior to their final rider coming forward. With nothing short of a clear being the difference between a victory for Germany or them being forced into a jump off with Great Britain, it was with bated breath that they waited for their final rider Hannes Ahlmann to complete the course. With the pressure appearing to get to Hannes, his round wasn’t anywhere near as fluid as his first and he returned home with an 8-penalty score having touched two fences on the way round.
Belgium and Ireland’s fortunes changed in the second round with Belgium incurring further penalties in round to finish in 3rd place whilst Ireland dropped into joint 4th place with Denmark.
For Great Britain, it was now down to a third-round jump-off, which required all team riders to come forward, and act as the decider on who would take the win.
Lily Freeman-Attwood, aged 17, from Shrewsbury, Shropshire with Karibou Horta, a 9-year-old chestnut gelding owned by Eurohorse – Axel Verlooy was the first to enter the arena. Having jumped clear in both rounds, they looked set to deliver a third until Karibou Horta put a single stride in the double and jumped her off resulting in elimination. Fortunately, Lily was absolutely fine, but it naturally added to the stress knowing that the three remaining team scores would now all need to count.
Allana Clutterbuck, aged 18, from Upminster, Essex with Vykinbay, a 10-year-old bay gelding owned by Sally Lane and Marina Storgato was next to come forward. A touch of a pole saw them pick up 4 penalties; this followed their initial two rounds of 4 penalties in the first and a clear in the second.
Antonia Platt, aged 17, from Chelmsford, Essex with Amigo, an 8-year-old bay gelding owned by Rosalind Platt, looked extremely determined as she entered the arena and couldn’t have been any more delighted when she jumped a faultless round to deliver the first jump-off clear for Great Britain. Their initial rounds had seen them jump for 4 penalties in the first and 9 in the second. With each of the final riders left to go for both teams, GB were carrying just 4 penalties whilst Germany were sitting on 8.
As Ben Clark, aged 16, from Southampton, Hampshire with Jancovica, a 10 year-old bay mare owned by Kim Clark came through the start the Germans were well aware that if he jumped clear, the competition was over for them. Riding with unbelievable maturity Ben steered Jancovica to an incredible clear to claim the victory for Great Britain. With what would no doubt have been a heavy heart the German team withdrew their final rider knowing there was no point in bringing him forward.
For the British support team, it was an emotional celebration after what had been an incredibly hard-fought competition. Talking afterwards, Clare Whitaker the Youth Team Manager for British Showjumping commented “This was a tough win and I couldn’t be prouder of them. They all rode and tried really hard in what was a high pressure and tension fuelled competition.”