Army officer to lead Britain’s equestrians to Rio 2016

Dan Hughes
Dan Hughes

Army officer Dan Hughes has been named the British Equestrian Federation’s new Performance Director.

Hughes will take on the responsibility for the coordination and delivery of the UK Sport National Lottery funded World Class Programme for the disciplines of eventing, dressage, showjumping, and para-equestrian dressage and with it the hopes of the nation to deliver championship success for Great Britain’s equestrian teams at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The appointment was announced by BEF Chief Executive Andrew Finding on Friday.

The position of World Class Performance Director was previously held by Will Connell, who departed after the Alltect FEI World Equestrian Games in September to take up the role of Director of Sport for the United States Equestrian Federation.

Hughes will start in his new role on completion of his military service in the spring of 2015. He brings a breadth of experience, shaped through a lifelong involvement in equestrian sport as well as from within his 24 year military career, having served as Commanding Officer of the Household Cavalry.

Before joining the Army Hughes initially trained with Olympic medallist Ian Stark and competed to 4* level in eventing. He was a member of the successful British European Young Rider squads in 1989 and 1990, continuing to compete up to 2* level whilst in the Army, until the demands of his career took over. He has served in a wide variety of leadership, planning and operational roles including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and also commanded the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment during the 2011 Royal Wedding, the Diamond Jubilee and London Olympic Games in 2012.

In his new role Hughes will be responsible for fulfilling the mission of the BEF’s World Class Programme; identifying talent, maximising potential and delivering success. The aim will be to develop systems that will win more medals for Great Britain on the international stage through a ‘no compromise’ approach. He will lead a team of athletes, staff and consultants and work closely with the three British Equestrian Federation Olympic Member Bodies; British Dressage, British Eventing and British Showjumping as well as British Carriagedriving, British Reining, British Vaulting and Endurance GB when their teams compete on the world stage.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Army but always wanted to return to the equestrian world; the opportunity to take up the role of BEF Performance Director was impossible to resist,” Hughes said.

“I am extremely excited about the challenges that lie ahead and the prospect of working with such a talented group of athletes, coaches and support staff.  I look forward to building on the outstanding success achieved by them, and my predecessor, to further develop and drive that success forward to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and beyond.”

Chief Executive Andrew Finding said the BEF had undertaken “the most intensive global search in history” for the role. Assisted by UK Sport and the British Olympic Association, shortlisted candidates went through a rigorous selection procedure.

“Dan Hughes showed us that he has the talent, fortitude, managerial and leadership skills worthy of our finest athletes. We will vest in him responsibility in leading the British Equestrian team to the Games in Rio and beyond. We will welcome him with warmth and open arms. Until he joins us we will continue in our drive to achieve success with Gordon Burton, Head of Performance, and Sarah Armstrong, Head of Administration and Logistics.”

Hughes will see out his remaining commitments to the Army over the winter and will join the BEF full time in the spring of 2015.

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