Rule Britannia! The British veterans team are victorious in Fontainbleau

Rule Britannia! The triumphant British team - Lynda Birke on Dalusha Z, James Loffet with Falline, Anne Berry on Urio, chef d'Equipe Laureen Evans and Keith Stockdale with Touareg D Ertaw

Great Britain ruled at the three-day veterans meeting at Fontainbleau, France, claiming victory in the large tour team competition. The team produced a zero score after two rounds, but it went to the wire with a nail-biting jump-off against France.

The Brits were in top form and pathfinder James Loffet with Falline, Lynda Birke on Dalusha Z and Anne Berry aboard Urio all returned round one clears. There was no need for anchor Keith Stockdale to start in round one, and he saved Touareg D Ertaw for the second round as Britain stood in equal first with France at the halfway stage.

With another two strong clears in round two from James and Lynda, Britain edged ahead as France’s pathfinder Odile Petit and Braveheart came home on four. But Anne and Urio uncharacteristically posted eight faults to leave the team vulnerable. However, Keith’s strength in the anchor position came into play and he returned home penalty-free to equal France’s zero score over the two rounds and force a jump-off. Keith was selected to represent Britain and stormed home clear with Touareg, finishing with 0.95 sec in hand over France’s Odile to take victory.

Catherine Fowdrey jumped to the top in the medium tour 1.15m speed on the eight-year-old Prince of Leon, commanding the win with more than six sec in hand. John Williams eased the Luidam nine-year-old Louis du Comte into 11th.

Catherine was on form and also claimed second in day two’s large tour 1.20m speed, guiding the eight-year-old mare Emalia 0.83 sec behind the pace. James Loffet was slightly steadier for seventh with the Mermus R 12-year-old Aramus VI.

James headed the final day’s 1.15m speed, claiming the win on the Nonstop 12-year-old mare Falline by 0.40 sec. A steadier round from Lynda Birke and the Quasimodo van de Molendreef nine-year-old Doretha finished 12th. Four faults dropped Lisa Bray and Baron Blue Corrado to 18th with John and Louis de Comte in 21st.

James also slotted the Careful 10-year-old Character 1243 into fifth in the 1.25m, clear and four dropping them down the line in the seven-strong jump-off.

And James was best Brit in the concluding Europa 1.25m grand prix. He was foot-perfect all the way, Aramus VI clearing every rail, but a steadier time put them in 10th place. Germany’s Boris Miksa took the win on Quidam’s Rossini S. Catherine and Emalia claimed 12th on four faults with Lynda Birke’s 10-year-old Douglas daughter Dalusha Z in 13th.

Keith slotted Touareg D Ertaw into second on the initial day’s 1.20m, the Calvaro 10-year-old finishing 1.80 sec behind the winner. Four faults in the jump-off dropped James to 11th in the 14-strong jump-off on Character 1243 and Lisa jumped into 14th with Baron Blue Corrado.

In the 1.10m small grand prix, John Williams was clear all the way on Vice Cersa to finish third, crossing the line four sec behind the winner. Peter Liffen and the Ultimo seven-year-old Flinstone were also clear and hot on their heels for fourth.

Lisa Bray posted a steady clear in the final day’s 1.10m speed on Creme de Reve, a nine-year-old by Creme van’t Steentje, seven sec behind the winner for 11th.

The Brits were bunched together in day one’s 1.15m, giving their horses an easy first run out to all return home clear. James eased Falline into 11th and Aramus VI into 13th, sandwiching Keith Stockdale on the Calido I seven-year-old Flio into 12th with Anne on the No Limit 16-year-old Urio in 14th. Lisa with Baron Blue Corrado and Lynda Birke on Dalusha Z also posted clears for 18th and 19th.

Easy double clears in the initial 1.10m from Catherine Fowdrey on the 12-year-old Chellano mare Fienetta and and Laureen Evans with the 12-year-old Titus van Euvebreake daughter Lady Jasmine put them into 10th and 11th. Peter Liffen and Flinstone also returned a clean sheet to finish further down the line.