Britain names showjumpers for Olympic Games

Nick Skelton and Big Star
Nick Skelton and Big Star. © Sportfot

The four showjumping horse and rider combinations who will compete for Britain at the Olympic Games have been named by the British Olympic Association.

They are:

  • Scott Brash (26) from Peebles, Scotland riding Hello Sanctos owned by Lady Pauline Harris and Lady Pauline Kirkham
  • Peter Charles (52) from Alton, Hampshire riding [Murka’s] Vindicat W owned by Olga White, Tara Charles & Team Murka
  • Ben Maher (29) from Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire riding Tripple X III owned by The Quainton Stud and rider
  • Nick Skelton OBE (54) from Alcester, Warwickshire riding Big Star owned by Mrs Beverley Widdowson

Travelling reserve:

  • Tina Fletcher (47) from Farringdon, Oxfordshire riding Hello Sailor owned by Lady Pauline Harris and Lady Pauline Kirkham

There are two debutantes but the team still has a total of nine Olympic Games to their names. It will be the sixth Olympic Games for team stalwart Nick Skelton (who also took part in the Alternative Games of 1980).

Skelton said: “Seventh time lucky hopefully; I’m really pleased to be selected. The horses are going well at the moment and I hope we’ve got a good chance although you never know what will happen on the day. Henry [Big Star] is a placid, easy going horse and doesn’t seem to mind the big occasions so I wouldn’t think Greenwich will faze him too much.

Tackeray, pictured with Ben Maher.
Ben Maher, pictured with Tackeray.

“I’ve just got to thank Gary and Beverley Widdowson, the horse’s owners who’ve stuck by me even through I’m getting on a bit in years. Having a horse at the Olympics has always been their aim. They’ve refused a lot of money and not many would have resisted the temptation to sell so I’m very lucky to have their support.”

It will be the second Games for his 2008 team-mate Ben Maher; and both riders were part of the bronze medal winning team at last year’s European Championships where Skelton also claimed individual bronze. Both head into the summer with the confidence of Grand Prix competition form firmly on their side.

“It’s amazing; it’s just a dream to be in the Olympics, the news hasn’t really sunk in,” Maher said. “Making the team is one thing but the hard work really starts now, there’s a lot of pressure to live up to, hopefully we can pull everything together at the right time. I love competing on home soil, it’s lucky for me and it will be great that so many people who’ve helped me get where I am will be able to relate to that.

“Hugo [Tripple X III] is home-bred which makes this extra special, the horse has only ever had me on his back in competition so by now we know we trust each other. Mike and Emma Phillips who I part own him with have been amazing. From our very first conversation they said it would be a dream to have a horse at the Olympics. I couldn’t do it without them and it’s great to tick this box for them now. It’s such a massive honour.”

Although Scott Brash will make his Olympic debut in Greenwich the Scottish number one is no stranger to team selections as a regular competitor for GB on Nations Cups squads since 2010. With new ride Hello Sanctos he bagged his biggest Grand Prix win to date at the start of 2012 in Florida and has continued to impress.

Scott Brash and Intertoy Z
Scott Brash, pictured on Intertoy Z. © Sportfot

“I am just so pleased, I’m really looking forward to it and getting out there and focusing on the job in hand. I remember watching the Olympics four years ago and never thought that I would be in the position I’m in today where I’m preparing for London 2012,” Brash said.

“Everything has happened so quickly and each year has just got better and better for me. When I think about the fact that I only got the ride on Sanctos at the end of last year and the way we have bonded along with the confidence I have in him it’s quite remarkable. I just hope that I can now go out and do my country proud in addition to everyone that has supported me and helped me get to this point; my grooms, vets, farriers, friends, family and in particular my owners without whom this would have been impossible.”

Peter Charles completes the team line up and will also head to London as an Olympic debutant for Great Britain but with the experience of having previously competed for Ireland on his past two Olympic appearances in 1992 and 1996. The Liverpudlian won individual gold at the European Championships in 1995 and has an impressive track record to his name including three consecutive Hickstead Derby wins.

Peter Charles and Murka's Nevada.
Peter Charles, pictured on Murka’s Nevada. © Paul Harding @

Charles said he usually did not get too emotional “about these things but this is different – it’s already a great achievement and a great honour for me to be selected to compete for Team GB. I’ll now sit down with our Performance Manager Rob [Hoekstra] to make plans for our best preparation.

“Vinny [Murka’s Vindicat W] is a wonderful athlete, maybe the least experienced horse on the team, but he more than makes up for that in talent and ambition. He’s only a small horse but he’s a big fighter. We’ve got four good horses and four good riders so it’s a capable team; I’m looking forward to it.”

Waiting in the wings is Tina Fletcher with her long-term partner Hello Sailor, with whom she boasts a wealth of experience on the international circuit. The combination would make their Championship and Olympic debut for Great Britain if called upon this summer.

Hoekstra said the team was going to London with an extremely strong, talented and young team of horses.

“We have three 10 year-olds and one 9 year-old which I would imagine to be the youngest team of horses that you will see there.  As a team, we go as a strong unit, fighting together with an aim of making Great Britain proud. I am very grateful to our loyal owners who have made these horses available to us and we are now focused on the challenge ahead and our preparations in ensuring we peak at the right time,” Hoekstra said.

Tina Fletcher and Promised Land winning the 2011 Hickstead Derby.
Tina Fletcher, pictured on Promised Land winning the 2011 Hickstead Derby. © Samantha Lamb Photography

“The decisions have been made and everyone has had a chance to show us what they can do.

Equestrian Team Leader, Will Connell said the selected jumping team athletes mirroedr the other Team GB equestrian teams, in that they are a mix of youth and experience.

“This is an exciting team that is very much in the ascendancy in terms of their results and their horses’ competition experience.

“2012 will be the most competitive Games in history; it is going to be exciting, it is going to be very close, it is going to be nerve-wracking, it is going to be memorable,” he said.

Team GB Chef de Mission, Andy Hunt said that Skelton’s selection to compete at his seventh Olympic Games was a “very special achievement”, and a tribute to the rider’s quality, determination and consistency. “I am sure the other riders and athletes across Team GB will learn a lot from Nick’s wealth of experience.”

The first round of the jumping competition starts on Saturday, August 4; the team competition running August 5-6 with the individual final taking place on August 8. All four athletes compete as a team and an individual, but only the three best scores will count towards the team result.

All the equestrian events are to be staged at Greenwich Park.

The addition of the jumping athletes brings the total number of athletes officially selected to compete for Team GB at London 2012 to 397 across 31 sport disciplines: archery, athletics – marathon, badminton, basketball, boxing, canoe slalom, canoe sprint, cycling, diving, equestrian – eventing, equestrian – dressage, equestrian – jumping, fencing, handball, hockey, modern pentathlon, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, synchronised swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon, volleyball – indoor, weightlifting and wrestling.


Horse and Rider detailed information

AthleteHorse nameAlso known asOwner/sAge of horseColourSexHeightSire
Scott BrashHello SanctosSanctosLady Kirkham and Lady Harris10BayGelding16.2hhQuasimodo VD Molendreef
Peter Charles(Murka’s) Vindicat WVinnyOlga White, Tara Charles & Team Murka10BayGelding16.1hhGuidam
Ben MaherTripple X IIIHugoQuainton Stud and rider10BlackStallion17hhNamelus R
Nick SkeltonBig StarHenryMrs Beverley Widdowson9BayStallion16.3hhQuick Star

Travelling-Reserve Horse information

AthleteHorse nameAlso known asOwner/sAge of horseColourSexHeightSire
Tina FletcherHello SailorLady Harris and Lady Kirkham13ChestnutGelding16.2hhKigali


Nominated entries: jumping

Scott Brash with Mr Stanley Brash’s Intertoy Z
Scott Brash with Lord & Lady Kirkham and Lord & Lady Harris’ Hello Sanctos
Peter Charles with Team Murka’s (Murka’s) Nevada
Peter Charles with Team Murka’s (Murka’s) Vindicat W
Tina Fletcher with Lord & Lady Kirkham and Lord & Lady Harris’ Hello Sailor
William Funnell with Mr Mark and Mrs Julie Slade’s Billy Angelo
William Funnell with the Billy Stud’s Billy Congo
Ben Maher with the Quainton Stud’s and his own Tripple X III
Nick Skelton with Mrs Beverley Widdowson’s Big Star
Nick Skelton with Mrs Beverley Widdowson’s Carlo 273
Tim Stockdale with Mr Colin Garratt’s (Fresh Direct) Kalico Bay
John Whitaker with Mrs Clare Whitaker’s Maximillian
Michael Whitaker with Mrs Beatrice Mertens’s (GIG) Amai
Michael Whitaker with his own Viking
Guy Williams with Mrs Lindsay Doran’s Depardieu Van T Kiezelhof 



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