The squad of five riders has been named ahead of this year’s Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at Hickstead (26 July), with two breakthrough stars lining up alongside experienced campaigners.
Both William Funnell and Ben Maher have made a number of Nations Cup appearances at Hickstead, while US-based Amanda Derbyshire returns for a second year in a row. They are joined by Amy Inglis and James Wilson, both of whom have been very impressive in their first senior Nations Cups this season.
Amanda Derbyshire, 31, originally hails from Lancashire but is now based in the USA. She has been selected with either Luibanta BH or Roulette BH. Luibanta BH was on the team at last year’s Hickstead leg, where she impressed with just one down in the first round and a clear round in the second. Amanda also finished third in the Longines BHS King George V Gold Cup with Roulette BH.
Surrey-based William Funnell, 53, is no stranger to success at Hickstead – he is a four-time winner of the Al Shira’aa Derby, with the most recent of these wins coming in 2018 with Billy Buckingham. He has been selected with the talented nine-year-old Billy Diamo, who has had five-star placings at Windsor, Olympia and in Dubai.
Amy Inglis, 22, lives very locally to Hickstead and has been coming to the showground all of her life – her father is international showjumper Duncan Inglis. She rides the 11-year-old chestnut mare Wishes, on whom she made her senior Nations Cup debut in La Baule in May. With a clear and a single time fault across their two rounds, it was an impressive first appearance for this talented pair.
Olympic gold medallist Ben Maher MBE, 36, from Hertfordshire, has been selected with Tic Tac, a 16-year-old bay stallion. Ben has had an extraordinary few seasons on the Longines Global Champions Tour, winning the series in 2018 and currently lying third on the 2019 leaderboard. He returns to Hickstead, where his major wins include the Hickstead Derby in 2005 and the Longines BHS King George V Gold Cup in 2013.
Somerset-based James Wilson, 25, has been selected with the 11-year-old Imagine de Muze. The pair made their senior Nations Cup debut at St Gallen in June where they produced a superb double clear. It will be James’ first time competing at the Hickstead CSIO 5*.
The British showjumping team – gold medallists at London 2012 – has yet to secure qualification for the Tokyo Olympics. Its only chances to do so are at the FEI European Championships in August, or at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona in September.
Only the top eight teams from European Division One qualify for the final, and Britain are currently sitting eighth. They still have a chance to gain points at their home leg at Hickstead and the final leg in Dublin in August, but the pressure is on with both Italy and Sweden (currently ninth and tenth) also eligible to win points at these final two competitions. The other teams competing for honours at Hickstead are Ireland, the USA, Germany, Belgium and Brazil – all of whom have been victorious in recent years.
Britain has not won their home leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ series since 2010, although they came very close last year when finishing runners-up to Ireland. A strong performance at Hickstead will give their chances of making the final – and picking up one of those crucial Olympic qualifying tickets – a real boost.
“This year’s team is a real mix of youth and experience, with two very talented riders in Amy Inglis and James Wilson making their Hickstead team debuts,” says Hickstead Director Lizzie Bunn.
“After winning team gold at London 2012 and an individual gold at Rio 2016, it’s unthinkable that the British showjumpers wouldn’t be at Tokyo. Hopefully a strong performance here at Hickstead will secure a ticket to the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, as well as boosting confidence ahead of the Europeans in Rotterdam.”
Tickets for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at the Longines Royal International Horse Show (23-28 July) are on sale now from www.hickstead.co.uk