Brash the hero as Brits excel in Florida sunshine

Great Britain's Scott Brash on Hello Sanctos.
Great Britain's Scott Brash on Hello Sanctos.
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WORLD No 1 show-jumper Scott Brash ended this year’s Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida by winning the grand prix finale on his London 2012 horse Hello Sanctos.

Brash, from Peebles, landed the top prize of just under £100,000 following a trademark high-class performance under pressure.

The Olympic and European team gold medallist clocked a time of 43.44 seconds in a seven-horse jump-off, beating Ireland’s Richard Moloney and Slieveanorra into second spot by more than a second.

America’s Jessica Springsteen, daughter of rock star Bruce Springsteen, took third place with British Olympian Peter Charles’ former ride Vindicat W.

Brash’s performance ended a successful festival for British show-jumpers, with Ben Maher being named leading rider across the event and Tom Gredley taking leading rider in the Suncast 1.50-metre series.

“It has been a tremendous festival for our riders this year, and to finish on such a high just couldn’t have been better,” said British Showjumping’s world-class performance manager Rob Hoekstra.

“Scott rode brilliantly and thoroughly deserved his win. Both he and Sanctos were superb.”

On the eventing front, Huddersfield’s former world No 1 Oliver Townend took the wraps off his stable star, Armada, with a victory at Burgham last weekend.

Armada jumped a fluent and fast clear cross-country round to win the Advanced.

Townend was kept busy with both Cooley Master Class and Sandiman II, who finished 11th and 13th, respectively, in the same section.

Kanga Rouge provided Townend’s best Novice result with a double clear putting them in fifth.

For Armada, all roads lead to the next month’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, which includes eight previous winners headed by Britain’s world No 2 William Fox-Pitt.

As well as Townend, Fox-Pitt will be joined by fellow former past champions Mary King, Pippa Funnell and New Zealander Mark Todd, plus the Australian trio of Lucinda Fredericks, Andrew Hoy and Paul Tapner, organisers have announced.

New Zealand’s current world No 1, Andrew Nicholson, though, could be the man to beat.

He will ride two of his three entered horses – reigning Burghley champion Avebury, 2013 Kentucky winner Quimbo and Nereo, third at Badminton last year.

Fox-Pitt, meanwhile, currently has four horses entered in Parklane Hawk, Chilli Morning, Cool Mountain and Bay My Hero.

Yorkshire representation will also come from Northallerton’s Nicola Wilson with rising stars Annie Clover and Beltane Queen.

There will be increased attention on Badminton this year, which carries a first prize of £80,000, as the selection race begins to hot-up ahead of the World Equestrian Games in Normandy during late August and early September.

Zara Phillips, who is expected to make a return to competitive eventing this month following the birth of her first child, is not entered for Badminton from May 8-11.

But she could head to Germany’s four-star event at Luhmuhlen in June with her World Equestrian Games hope High Kingdom.

This weekend’s leading eventing action comes at Belton Park in Lincolnshire where Townend has 11 entries from Novice, through Intermediate to CIC two-star and CIC three-star.

Wilson also has seven entries headed by Annie Clover in the CIC three-star.

The British Eventing senior selection committee have also selected a team of four riders from the British CICO squad to represent Great Britain at Ballindenisk for the second leg of the 2014 FEI Nations Cup Series.

The competition will take place from Thursday, April 10 until Monday, April 14.

The selected quartet are Rosalind Canter on Zenshera, Nicky Roncoroni on Stonedge, Izzy Taylor on Allercombe Ellie and Lucy Wiegersma on Mr Chunky. Team manager Philip Surl said: “We have an exciting mix of new and established riders on the team for Ballindenisk who are on a selection of very promising looking horses.

“It will be great to see Ros Canter in action at her first Nations Cup competition.”

Eventing Performance manager Yogi Breisner also added: “The primary purpose of campaigning the CICO Nations Cup series is to give riders who have not been regular members of Senior Championship teams experience of working and competing within a team environment and to get them out competing against the best continental 
riders.”