The first of the Furisiyya FEI Nations Cup competitions took place in Al Ain (UAE) which saw Great Britain competing against eight other teams. Drawn 7th to go of the nine teams competing across the two rounds was Robert Smith with his own 11 year old bay mare Voila that took the role of pathfinder for the team. Producing a superb clear round within the time set of 77 seconds for the fifteen jumping efforts required the combination met with considerable applause for producing the first faultless round within the time required.
Second to go and making her debut for the 5* Nations Cup team was 19 years old Yazmin Pinchen with Van de Vivaldi. The combination looked set to follow in the footsteps of Robert and Voila having jumped clear to almost the last fence. However, coming into an oxer just near the end of the course Van de Vivaldi put in an uncharacteristic stop, which he repeated resulting in their elimination in the first round. Next to go was Belgium based Joe Clee with Diablesse de Muze. Also making his debut at 5* Nations Cup competition, the combination were unlucky incurring 4-faults when they touched the last fence. Tina Fletcher with Hello Sailor incurred 4 faults when a fence fell mid-course and a time penalty. This left Team GB in 4th place going into the second round.
Once again Robert Smith showed what a talented mare Voila is by producing a foot perfect round with a few seconds to spare giving Great Britain an extremely solid start to round 2. Yazmin and Van de Vivaldi became the drop score for the team when they were once again eliminated at the same fence. Joe and Diablesse de Muze, looking extremely comfortable in the arena were determined not to incur the same unlucky 4faults that they did in the first round. They produced a faultless round within time adding another clear to the one produced by Robert. Tina Fletcher produced a clear but incurred a time penalty. Together this left Great Britain finishing in 2nd place behind The Netherlands with Saudi Arabia in third.
Rob Hoekstra, World Class Performance Manager for Showjumping commented, “This was our first Nations Cup of the year and a few of the horses were perhaps a little rusty in the first round but came back great in the second. Robert Smith’s performance was absolutely fantastic which really bodes well for the year ahead.”