British selectors have named a six-strong squad of eventers for the upcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.
The squad comprises Tina Cook, 43, (De Novo News), William Fox-Pitt, 45, (Chilli Morning), Pippa Funnell, 45, (Billy Beware), Zara Phillips, 33, (High Kingdom), Izzy Taylor, 31, (Allercombe Ellie), and Oliver Townend, 31, (Black Tie II).
Eventing Chef d’Equipe Yogi Breisner said the main aim this year was Olympic qualification, with the World Games from August 23 to September 7 the first opportunity of only two for Britain to qualify for Rio 2016. “I think we have the right squad to achieve that.”
The eventing competition at the Games takes place from August 28 to 31.
Chef de Mission, Will Connell said achieving Olympic qualification is the primary objective of the selection policy, “and we head to WEG with the expertise and talent to achieve this and a team that has demonstrable medal winning experience and benefits from the valuable support of Lottery funding. Results this spring show there are many nations in the hunt for medals and that Britain is certainly one of those.”
Tina Cook, from Worthing in West Sussex was thrilled to be selected, especially on a home-bred horse. “I’m very excited for the future for him and I’m so thrilled for Jim Chromiak, who’s been a long term and loyal owner of mine for over twenty years. WEG this time around will be hugely easier in terms of logistics as there’s no flight involved but this doesn’t take away from the prestige of a World Champs – where you are competing up against the best in world.
“He’s [De Novo News] so adaptable, he’s a big horse and has scope. It’s his first Championships so who knows, but he has done three four stars now, with a ninth place at Burghley. He didn’t start eventing until he was six, so to have done what he has done by the age of 11 is amazing and shows what a very talented horse he is, I’m very excited to see how he’ll go.”
William Fox-Pitt said it was an honour to be named for his fourth WEG, after Aachen, Jerez and Kentucky. “It is always an honour to be able to secure a place on the team and this year we look hopefully very strong as a team, so I hope we have a good result and get a qualifying result for Rio.
“These Games are always so special and it’s a privilege to get the chance to represent our country.”
Pippa Funnell has also been selected on a home-bred horse, from her and Willam Funnell’s Billy Stud. Billy Beware is the first of the Billy Stud horses to be selected for the British Senior Squad in Eventing. “I am equally delighted for his owners, Jonathan and Jane Clarke who have been very enthusiastic supporters and have been with me for over eight years now, so this is really exciting for them.
“I am delighted to be joining my old team mates; it is always a huge honour to be asked to be part of the team. I have missed the camaraderie so much so it’s really wonderful to be with them all again.
“This horse is extra special to me as our good friend Bridget Stack, who sadly passed away a few years ago, named him ‘Gorgeous’ when he was three. She said that I must always keep him to event and not go into that showjumping job! She said he would be very special which he is, so I always smile to myself when he has a good result, she was so right in her predictions.”
Zara Phillips said it was fantastic to be part of a team again. “We’ve got a bit of work still to do to get back to where we were last year but will have a few more outings to make sure we are right on target with our preparation but it’s great to be back, fingers crossed. It’s always that extra bit special with every nation being involved. Last time [WEG, 2006] was our first four star Championships, so was a totally different experience, we had a fantastic week and I hope we can produce a good result for the team and the country.
“High Kingdom has improved each year and every time I’ve taken him to a big competition he’s got better and better. He’s felt good this year and hopefully will peak at the right time. None of us can do it without our owners and Trevor [Hemmings] has been with me a long time; he’s been a huge part of the yard for such a long time and I’m glad we’ve found such a good horse for him.”
Izzy Taylor said that on a personal level, selection was a step up from the European Championships. “I’m very excited and to be going to another Championship, which will be a different kind of Championships [to the Europeans in 2013]; it’s exciting. I’ve never spectated at a Worlds before so I don’t know what to expect but I can imagine that there will be a bigger atmosphere and the event will have a lot more about it.
“I’m really happy to be riding Ellie [Allercombe Ellie], she’s still quite new to me but we’ve built up a good relationship. I’m really pleased for her owners; I can imagine it will be even more special for Susan [Holroyd], as she bred her.”
Oliver Townend said he had taken Black Tie II, a half-brother to William Fox-Pitt’s Kentucky winner Parklane Hawk, to the Luhmühlen for his first CCI4* last weeked, without any real expectations, “yet he exceeded anything we could have hoped for him and more [fourth place]. It was a really nice surprise to hear I had been called up for the team.
“Last time I went to a WEG I was just a young lad of 23! It is a fantastic competition as you know that everyone there is the best in the world and it will be great to spot some of my equestrian idols again, some that I have followed since I was young,” Fox-Pitt said.
“I am so pleased for his owner Karyn [Shuter] on his selection as she helps me so much in running my business and keeping everything going for me. I took over the ride from her [Karyn] when she was off with an injury in 2010; we won our first competition together at Aston Le Walls and so she kindly said I should keep on with him. He has just gone from strength to strength with every question I ask of him, we honestly, honestly never expected him to get this far but if I do my job, he does his without any questions asked.
“Karyn bought him eight years ago for next to nothing through an advert in New Zealand, so when he won the CIC3* at Burnham Market this spring we said to ourselves that even if he never does another thing in his life he won’t owe us a thing. He is such a good mate to us, is lovely to have around the place and is never a moment’s bother to anyone. He has a fantastic brain and is just such a cool little horse, we are incredibly proud of him,” Townend said.
Black Tie II won two races in New Zealand under the name Detente. By the US-bred Danzig son Mughtanim, he is out of Deebee Lady, a mare by the renowned eventing sire Brilliant Invader. Parklane Hawk, by Grosvenor, is a year older than Black Tie II.
The eventing competition sees all riders compete as individuals, with the four team riders announced after the trot-up (the results of the two riders competing solely as individuals do not have any weighting on the overall team score).
Equestrian Team GBR is supported by the UK Sport Lottery funded World Class Programme; the British teams are very grateful to the support they receive from official Team GBR suppliers Dodson and Horrell, Land Rover, Mears Country Jackets, NAF, Nuumed, Point Two Equine, Tagg Equestrian and Toggi.
- Tina Cook (43) from Worthing, West Sussex with Mr Jim Chromiak and her own De Novo News
- William Fox-Pitt (45) from Sturminster Newton, Dorset with Mr Christopher Stones’ Chilli Morning
- Pippa Funnell MBE (45) from Dorking, Surrey with Mr Jonathan and Mrs Jane Clarke’s Billy Beware
- Zara Phillips MBE (33) from Stroud, Gloucestershire with Gleadhill House Stud Ltd’s High Kingdom
- Izzy Taylor (31) from Banbury, Oxfordshire with Ms Frances Carter and Miss Susan Holroyd’s Allercombe Ellie
- Oliver Townend (31) from Ellesmere, Shropshire with Miss Karyn Shuter’s Black Tie II