BRITAIN won the Longines FEI Nations Cup of Great Britain at their home grounds of Hickstead for the first time in 13 years on Friday evening after a dramatic second round saw Ireland’s Mark McAuley unfortunately eliminated under the blood rule after what looked like a brilliant double clear.

However Michael Blake’s team of McAuley, Shane Breen, Jack Ryan and Daniel Coyle still held on to finish in second place and collect an important 90 points to move them up the leaderboard in the Longines FEI Nations Cup series standings ahead of the final round at Dublin on Friday, August 11th.

A delighted Di Lampard, chef d’equipe of the British team who also won at the venue as a rider, commented: “It’s amazing, this is what we have targeted since 2010 and this year we came back even stronger after the disappointment of last year. It was so special for John [Whitaker] to have won it for us, what a living legend, but to the lads as well, to win on home soil couldn’t be better.”

Britain’s Kelvin Bywater built a strong test for the eight nations. The track included some Hickstead classics, including the big white gate, open water and the red Hickstead planks.

First into the arena was Shane Breen, on familiar territory on home soil at Hickstead, where his stable yard is just a few hundred metres from the famous arena. He was the pathfinder with Breen Equestrian and Quirke Sport Horses’ 11-year-old gelding Cuick Star Kervec (Quick Star x Diamant de Semilly).

The extravagant jumper failed to shorten enough after the open water and knocked the following oxer at fence six, before also lowering the middle part of the triple combination to finish on eight faults.


Mark McAuley debuted the Irish Sport Horse GRS Lady Amaro at the level when second to go for Ireland. The 10-year-old mare by Amaretto D’Arco is out Legal Lady (Over the River) and bred at Garryrichard Stud by Denis Hickey. She was previously produced by Mark’s cousin, Patrick Hickey, before he bought the mare. Not looking any way green at the level, the mare was foot-perfect throughout and quick too, to complete on a brilliant clear and give the team confidence.

Belgian-based Jack Ryan has only lightly campaigned his mother Marguerite’s home-bred BBS McGregor (Cardento x Mark Twain) at a few big shows this season and they were part of the winning team at Rome in May, as well as jumping on the team at Sopot. A clear round never looked in doubt as the pair navigated the course perfectly to add to the Irish excitement.

The anchorman was USA/Canada-based Derry rider Daniel Coyle, in Europe from the summer, and he rode Ariel Grange’s experienced 13-year-old mare Legacy (Chippendale Z x Bon Ami). The pair clipped the first part of the combination to finish with four faults.

That left Ireland on four faults and in a share of the lead at the half way stage alongside Britain who also secured two clears in the first round – from Ben Maher (Exit Remo) and Harry Charles (Casquo Blue) - and the 2022 winners France. Eight combinations were clear in the first round.

Second round

Teams came in reverse order for the second round and, as fastest of the four-fault teams, Ireland had the advantage of being last to go.

Shane Breen scored eight faults again second time out; this time knocking fence four – the white gate – and the tall vertical at fence seven. McAuley came in again and produced a fabulous clear round with GRS Lady Amaro, the first double clear of the competition. However, after leaving the arena, word soon came through that McAuley had been eliminated under the blood rule in a disappointing end to their debut.

A statement afterwards from Hickstead said: “Mark McAuley was eliminated following his clear second round, after a routine Steward’s check found traces of blood on the horse’s flanks. While the ground jury accepted that the incident was entirely accidental, the horse was eliminated under the FEI blood rules.”

When John Whitaker, aged 68, jumped clear with Equine America Unick Du Francport, it wrapped up the competition for a British win as they could not be caught. Whitaker has an incredible 180 Nations Cup appearances.

Ireland were still in the hunt for a podium place and, as he has in the past under pressure, 21-year-old Jack Ryan delivered again, producing a perfect double clear to keep Ireland on 12 faults, ahead of France. There were just two other double clears; from Harry Charles who jumped again despite Britain already securing the victory, and from Frenchman Olivier Robert (Iglesias D.V.).

When Coyle entered the arena, he knew he had to be clear for second place; a fence down would see them on equal faults with France. He keep his cool and was foot-perfect to secure the runner-up position. Had McAuley’s clear stood, it would have gone to a jump-off between Britain and Ireland. Britain’s fourth team member was Tim Gredley (Medoc De Toxandria) who was clear second time out.


There were two more Irish-bred horses in the field; the 10-year-old grey gelding DPS Revere (Hermes de Reve x Cento), bred by Dara O’Malley and ridden by German veteran Marcus Ehning. The gelding was produced in Ireland by Shane Goggins and later Michael G Duffy.

The other Irish-bred was the Gerry Marron-bred Attoucha (Aganix Du Seigneur x Diamant de Semilly), ridden for the USA by Paris Sellon.