Last updated: 6 August, 2012

Britain win team show jumping gold as Saudis fade

Great Britain claimed the Olympic Games team show jumping gold for the first time in 60 years on Monday after a gripping jump-off against the Netherlands at Greenwich Park.

The head-to-head showdown was required to split the two teams after they had finished the competition in a tie for first with eight penalty points. Saudi Arabia, with 14 points, finished in the bronze medal position.

This was only the London 2012 hosts’ second ever team title, and it came 60 years after the first in Helsinki, sending the Union Jack flag-waving capacity 23,000 crowd into raptures.

Britain claimed gold when Peter Charles, the fourth rider to go in the jump off, held his nerve to go clear, matching the faultless displays of veteran Nick Skelton and Ben Maher.

The Dutch, seeking to follow up their team gold in Barcelona in 1992, were undone when Maikel van der Vleuten, riding Verdi, knocked two fences down and Marc Houtzager one down on Tamino.

This was only the second time in Olympic history that a jump off was needed to determine the destination of the team title after the United States, tied for sixth on Monday, defeated Canada in Beijing four years ago.

The British jumping team were going one better than their three-day eventing colleagues who last week took silver behind Germany.

The home nation’s work at Greenwich is far from over, with Skelton joint top of the standings and favourite to land gold in the individual show jumping competition which concludes on Thursday.

And they also have strong claims on the team and individual dressage titles.

For the 54-year-old Skelton this success, his first Olympic medal of any hue, was coming at his sixth Games.

“He said: “It has taken me 54 years. It is unbelievable and what a place to do it. I have got a wonderful horse and it is a dream come true.”

“It is great for our country and great for our sport. The lads have done great,” added the rider, who missed Sydney in 2000 after being advised by doctors to retire after breaking the C1 vertebrae in two places in his neck.

Saudi Arabia, featuring Prince Abdullah al-Saud, King Abdullah’s grandson, were emulating the individual jumping bronze picked up in Sydney.

Prince Abdullah, who knocked one fence down in Monday’s second round on his grey gelding Davos, was thrilled to have finished third and he paid tribute to his grandfather.

“Despite all his busy work back home he is our biggest supporter, he’s been following the competition on television and by phone,” said the 27-year-old law graduate.

“I am speechless this thing has happened and it means everything to us. We have been training in Belgium all together for three months and we have a great team spirit.”