Billy Twomey took the first international class of the day at Hickstead when partnering Thomas to the top in the Bunn Leisure Vase.

It looked like it was going to be a home whitewash of the event, with British riders occupying the first five places until the Irish rider pounced late on the nine year-old gelding to smash the lead time of Nicola Pavitt by over two seconds.

Pavitt had to settle for runner-up spot on Victor Blue, with Guy Williams in third place on Depardieu Van T Kiezelhof, almost five seconds off Twomey’s pace.

Twomey is one of five riders named in Robert Splaine’s squad for tomorrow’s Nations Cup at the British venue. The Irish team manager is to name his final four later today. Bertram Allen, Shane Breen, Anthony Condon and Paul Kennedy are the other riders in contention for a place. Mike Dunne.