There are no surprises in the dressage team named to represent Britain at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, which begin in Normany, France, on August 23.
The selected squad comprises Charlotte Dujardin (29) from Newent, Gloucestershire with Valegro; Michael Eilberg (28) from Redditch, Worcestershire with Half Moon Delphi; Carl Hester (47) from Newent, Gloucestershire with Nip Tuck; and Gareth Hughes (43) from Bishops Itchington, Warwickshire with DV Stenkjers Nadonna.
Eilberg is also selected with Marakov and Hester with Wolves as direct reserves, while the non-travelling reserves are Lara Griffith (25) from Ampney St Peter, Gloucestershire with Andretti H, and Daniel Watson (37) from Headcorn, Kent with Fideramber.
British team Chef d’Equipe Richard Waygood said the goal to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics at WEG was set in London. “To do this we need to be in the top three nations. Achieving qualification this summer will allow us to campaign next year with as much flexibility as possible, without having to worry about qualification. It’s going to be a very exciting championship.”
Chef de Mission, Will Connell said Hughes and Hester had already competed at the WEG venue, taking part in the recent test event; while Dujardin and Eilberg recently returned from Aachen CHIO. “Michael turned in some great scores and Charlotte demonstrated that it is not if you fall but how you pick yourself up again that marks you out as a worthy champion. We head to WEG with an experienced Dressage team who know that to secure Rio 2016 Qualification they must finish on the Team Podium. Once that is achieved then the battle will begin for individual medals; and that will be a very exciting clash of the titans.”
Dujardin was excited to be taking part in her first World Equestrian Games. “Representing my country is always a great honour and I hope we can give our fans and supporters the results to make them proud. I’m grateful to Carl [Hester] and Roly [Luard] for their generosity in letting me ride such an amazing horse. Thanks also to my sponsors and the World Class Programme for their support.”
Eilberg said after a great show in Aachen with Half Moon Delphi, WEG selection was the icing on the cake. “To get to the 80% mark at that show is a fantastic feeling; it felt like she was growing each time we went into the arena. Each year to get on the British team is an achievement and it’s been a goal for this season; our whole support team has been fantastic – from my owners, vets, farrier, support team at home – it’s been a real team effort to get to here.
“We’ve had Marakov since a three year old, and he’s taken his time to get to this level but for him to go and get his highest international result so far out at Aachen, and to know I’ve got a second horse on the team, it’s a real sense of achievement, particularly as we’ve owned and produced him.”
Hester said he was lucky to have three horses qualified and that his three owners had been so supportive.: “What a great opportunity – I’m certainly looking forward to the chance of bringing home medals for Britain. I know that if we can all post our best results on the day, we’re in with a great shot of a medal.”
Hughes said it had been a great year for Nadonna, and he had been working toward selection, “but you never really know until you get the call. I’m very proud to be a part of Team GBR again. It will be an exciting event for the public and for equestrian sport; I’m a bit of a closet cowboy, so I’m really hoping I’ll be able to go and see some of the reining competition, too.”
All riders compete both as individuals and also as part of the team in the team competition at the Championships (the three best scores count towards the overall team result in the Grand Prix). There are three medals up for grabs at the Games, with individual medals awarded for both the Grand Prix Special and Freestyle tests.
Irish dressage team named
Horse Sport Sport Ireland has also confirmed its dressage team of four combinations for the Games.
The team, in alphabetical order, is: James Connor – Casino Royal; Anna Merveldt – Vancouver; Judy Reynolds – Vancouver K; and Roland Tong – Pompidou. Reserve is Dane Rawlins, riding Sydney.
Amanda Renouard is chef d’Equipe for the Irish team.
Ireland previously fielded dressage teams at the World Equestrian Games in 1998 (Rome) and 2002 (Jerez).