Sampson in the clear to help Britain to third spot

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MATT SAMPSON, riding Utopia XI and making his debut with Britain’s senior Nations Cup team in Portugal, jumped a double clear to help the team gain third place.

It was a first at this level for both horse and rider, who showed calmness under pressure to finish on a score of zero.

Matt, 20, whose parents run the Parklands Equestrian Centre near Sheffield, is based with the trainer Henk Nooren in Belgium.

“We were there to watch him and we were over the moon,” said Ruth Sampson. “It was nerve-racking because it was his first time at senior level. But the atmosphere was fantastic, especially in the second round which was held under floodlights on Friday evening.”

Matt’s performance means he is the only British rider in a Nations Cup to jump a double clear so far this year. The other members of the team competing in Lisbon were Laura Renwick with Oz de Breve, who had eight faults; Bruce Menzies riding Sultan V with four faults and William Funnell riding Billy Angelo who also had four faults.

The team finished in joint-third place with France.

Matt said afterwards: “I’m thrilled with how Utopia went – to jump a double clear was awesome and I couldn’t have asked for more. It’s great to be part of a senior Nations Cup team and I look forward to building on this success.”

Utopia is owned by In Showjumpers, an investment group which is backing British riders. The group has also bought a six-year-old horse, Octavio, for Matt to ride.

His next aim is to compete with Utopia in the Young Riders European Championships in July. Matt celebrates his 21st birthday in August and his parents are hoping he’ll make the trip home to celebrate the occasion.

Another Yorkshire showjumper, Scott Smith, who is based at Thorne near Doncaster, has had a number of successes on the Sunshine Tour in Spain and Portugal. He has been building up a team of horses to compete internationally and took two five-year-olds on the Sunshine Tour.

Lapanus won six of his classes, came second twice and third in another. This was his first competition and following his success he has now been sold to join Cian O’Connor’s team of young horses.

Cabrietta, a five-year-old homebred bay mare, won three classes and was second in another in Spain. Then on the Portugal tour she also won two classes, came second in another and also gained a third and fifth place.

Scott took a break from top level showjumping for several years to concentrate on buying and producing young horses. He now has the backing of new sponsors and owners and is back competing with renewed enthusiasm.

LAST week in our report about Ride Yorkshire’s project to encourage riding over the Wolds, a printing error resulted in the wrong phone number being given. The organisation is looking for people who can offer accommodation and stabling on the Wolds. If you can help, please contact Catherine Fairburn on 01439-798108.

Don’t miss Sports Monday for the best report and pictures from the Bramham Horse Trials.