Britain has named a squad of 12 riders to compete at the Longines FEI European Eventing Championships in Blair Castle, Scotland in September.
The championships, from September 10 to 13, are the last major Championship before the Olympic Games, where Britain qualified a team spot after last year’s World Equestrian Games.
All riders compete as individuals at the Championships; four riders will be announced before the start of the competition to contest the team event.
Yogi Breisner, Chef d’Equipe for the Eventing team said the squad was an exciting group, and there were also some promising young horses making their Championship debut.
“I am really looking forward to going to Blair for a home European Championships.”
It will be the senior championship team debut for five of the riders, whilst four of those selected have previously competed at a home Europeans, after riding at Blenheim in 2005.
The selected squad is (in alphabetical order):
- Laura Collett (25) from West Berkshire with Mrs Diana Chappell’s Grand Manoeuvre
- Dani Evans (23) from Bristol with Mrs Luana Edge’s Smart Time
- William Fox-Pitt (46) from Sturminster Newton, Dorset with Mrs Catherine Witt’s Bay My Hero
- Pippa Funnell MBE (46) from Dorking, Surrey with Mrs Jennifer A Nolan, Miss Ruth McMullen and her own Sandman 7
- Flora Harris (27) from Hungerford, Berkshire with Mrs Caroline Harris and Ms Rebecca Salt’s Bayano
- Kitty King (32) from Chippenham, Wiltshire with Jane and Frank Inns Persimmon
- Gemma Tattersall (30) from Horsham, West Sussex with The Soul Syndicate’s Arctic Soul
- Izzy Taylor (32) from Banbury, Oxfordshire with Miss Susan Holroyd and Ms Frances Carter’s British Bred Allercombe Ellie
- Oliver Townend (32) from Ellesmere, Shropshire with Mr P J Hegarty’s Fenyas Elegance
- Francis Whittington (37) from Crowborough, East Sussex with Mrs Catherine Witt’s Easy Target
- Nicola Wilson (38) from Northallerton, North Yorkshire with Mary & Gerry Kemp and Mrs Janine Shewan’s One Two Many
- Holly Woodhead (21) from Marlborough, Wiltshire with Ian and Heidi Woodhead’s DHI Lupison
Four of the selected athletes have also been named with direct reserve horses; William Fox-Pitt is selected with Fernhill Pimms and Luxury F H. Pippa Funnell is selected with Second Supreme; Izzy Taylor has KBIS Briarlands Matilda, and Nicola Wilson is also named with her WEG ride, Annie Clover.
Selected reserves (in order of selection):
- Tom Jackson (22) from Kent, with Mr Ian & Mrs Sara Jackson and his own Waltham Fiddlers Find
- Wills Oakden (25) from Fife, Scotland with Mr David Kenwright’s Greystone Midnight Melody
- Tina Cook (44) from Worthing, West Sussex with Mr Jim Chromiak and her own De Nevo News
- Jodie Amos (31) from Warwickshire with Miss Nicola Coates and her own Wise Crack
- Sarah Bullimore (42) from Keysoe, Bedfordshire with Mr Brett Bullimore and her own Lilly Corinne
- Emilie Chandler (34) from Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire with Miss Sally Williams and Miss Nicola Dickson’s Coopers Law
Comments from riders on their selection:
Laura Collett (based West Berkshire, originally from Gloucestershire): “I am over the moon, he was so brilliant at Barbury and it is great to have the partnership we have developed together rewarded by being selected. This is the first time I have been to a home Championship so it’s really exciting to be going back to Blair, I went there for the first time last year (with Milo in the CIC) where I was blown away by the beauty.
“I have to thank Nick Gauntlett for producing Grand Manoeuvre to this level he has done an amazing job on him; I now feel that the effort I have put in to building the relationship with this horses is paying off and hopefully it’s onwards and upwards from here.
“His owner has said her dream was to go to Blair this year; I have been trying to maintain that we need to just take things as they come because there are a lot of good horses out there, so she is absolutely delighted that we have been selected.”
Dani Evans (Bristol): “I just feel very, very lucky at my age to have this level of horse power, support team, owners and family behind me to get to me to my first Senior Championships aged 23; I just can’t wait to get out there and do my country proud.
“I really enjoyed Blair when I was there as part of the British Young Rider team in 2011 when we won team gold, it was an amazing experience to have the home crowd cheering you on around the cross country.
“He was bought as a four year old by my uncle and produced beautifully by Polly Williamson. When I got the call from this horse’s owner asking me to take the ride after Polly had her accident, I couldn’t believe it because he is such a popular, talented horse with such a lot of potential and a great future ahead of him so I am so happy for her that he was selected.”
William Fox-Pitt (based Dorset, originally from Kent): “It is very exciting to see such a strong squad selected for our European Championships at Blair. It is a great reflection of our strength in depth that we have some very exciting new combinations in with a good chance. To have a championship on home soil is a rider’s ultimate goal and the support makes a huge difference as an athlete.
“I’m very honoured to have been selected and very pleased for Catherine Witt, owner of all three of my selected horses, it is much deserved recognition of the huge support she gives me. To have four horses selected [including Francis Whittington’s ride] at this stage for the British team is a huge achievement.”
Pippa Funnell (Surrey): “Surprised, delighted and excited. It is such a thrill to receive that phone call and once again a huge honour to be selected. Every championships is always special; it’s great that we have so many good riders and combinations coming through – that’s what will be exciting for the home crowd this year, anyone of them is capable of making the podium.”
“It makes it extra special to be selected on Sandman 7 as he is jointly owned by two people who are so special to me, my mother Jenny Nolan, and Ruth McMullen. Mum and I bought Sandman as a six year old and decided to give Ruth a share for her 80th birthday present as she has been so instrumental throughout my career. They are both thrilled with the news and we are all looking forward to September.”
Flora Harris (Berkshire): “I’m really excited to get my first senior call-up, just thrilled! Blair has been happy hunting ground for me having been second in the CIC3* last year (on Amazing III) and of course to have the home support will be amazing, hopefully it will mean more of my home team will be able to come and watch. Ian [Stark] always designs phenomenal courses, it will be tough and play a big part in the competition, but always rewards positive riding, I’m really looking forward to it!
“Being on the World Class Programme has made a huge difference, I’m so lucky to have the support; it has been invaluable in helping my results this year and, looking forward, the preparation for the Championships. I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful support team, my head girl [Charlotte Aitken], trainers, owners, it’s been a long journey and they have been a huge part of it.”
Kitty King (Wiltshire): “I’m absolutely over the moon, Persimmon has had really consistent results at 3* so really hoped that we would get the call. I’m so happy for the horse, owners and everyone who has been so supportive.
“My last home Championships was at Blenheim  and even though it didn’t go to plan it was brilliant riding in front of a home crowd and I know the atmosphere being at home this time will be amazing!
“I felt that being part of the World Class Programme has really helped our performance, having all of that support there, especially for the owners and it is great to have all of the training there. I was on Development [now known as Podium Potential] and it was a real boost to get put on the Performance Programme [now known as Podium], it’s a really great programme to be part of.
“I just want to thank all of my owners, sponsors and support team for all they’ve done and for getting me this far, I’ve been very lucky. I’m really looking forward to getting up there and seeing what Ian has done with the track!”
Gemma Tattersall (West Sussex): “When I saw Yogi’s call my heart missed a beat; it was a massive relief to hear from him, I was speechless in fact, which Yogi pointed out is rare!
“I am immensely happy to be selected and so proud for my support team who have worked so hard to get me to this point over the years. I really want to say a huge thank you to all the people who helped me keep the ride on him, I can’t thank the Soul Syndicate enough for all their kindness and support. I am sure Spike will have a big posse of friends and supporters going to Blair!
“I have been to Blair a few times and absolutely love it there, I hope Spike will shine through when he gets there as he generally loves mud and rain and will enjoy those big hills. The cross country is a bit old fashioned in the way that it’s a real riders’ course, it’s the ultimate in eventing in that it’s a proper tough track which will sort the men from the boys!”
Izzy Taylor (Oxfordshire): “It’s very exciting to be back in the squad after last year’s disappointment [after having to withdraw from WEG]. I’m delighted for all my owners, support team and sponsors who’ve backed me over the years and who have helped me get to this position. I’m really looking forward to September.”
Oliver Townend (based Shropshire, originally from Yorkshire): “I am very pleased to have been selected especially being such a new partnership. I am very excited and very proud of her.
“We will keep quietly progressing and getting to know each other better and continue to build on the relationship we have established so far and continue to be successful; I am really pleased with how she has performed so far, especially with her third place in the CCI3* at Saumur in May.”
Francis Whittington (East Sussex): “It’s very exciting and it’s been a long time trying to get to this moment, I joked with Yogi when he told me not to tell anyone about my selection until the announcement had been made, I said I had been waiting for 20 years I can wait a few more hours!
“I haven’t thought about it [competing at Blair] too much there is a long way to go until we get there but it is a stepping stone to show what we can do. It will undoubtedly be a very strong course and strong competition.
“Having never been [to Blair] I can only go on the information we’ve been given and ensuring that the fitness is there to be able to jump on the last day. We had a good run at Blenheim and following a similar format, sticking to what we are doing, believing in the system and trainers to work together to get the best results we can.
“Thank you to the World Class system and UK Sport for helping us get to this point, this is special and to be selected gives us an opportunity to experience what it is like [to be on a senior team]. It is exciting for the whole team, especially my yard manager Sharon Mepham who has been with me for 13 years and since the beginning of Smokey’s [Easy Target] career.
Nicola Wilson (North Yorkshire): “Blair Castle is a really exciting event and hopefully the support there will be enormous for Team GBR. It’s just the most beautiful setting; the hills and the parkland really lend itself to a great cross-country track; I’ve been very fortunate to go and compete there so often, it has been a fantastic event for us over the years but I’m certain Ian Stark will have some hidden surprises up his sleeve.
“It is such an honour and so exciting to have ‘One Two Many’ owned by Gerry and Mary Kemp and Janine Shewan selected for the European Championships with ‘Annie Clover’, owned by my parents Barry and Mary Tweddle as a direct reserve. Both horses have been so consistent and a pleasure to work with.
“It is especially exciting after the delay to the beginning of our season due to me breaking my collar bone that subsequently needed plating. It is credit to my home support team who worked so hard to keep the horses in tip top shape and to my fantastic owners who remained supportive and positive through this time. The support also from the World Class team – Yogi, Tracie, Peter, Andy, Ian Woodhead and UK Sport, who funded my treatment at the beginning of the year aiding my speedy return to competition, has been enormously appreciated. Fingers crossed that we stay safe and sound in the meantime and perform to the best of ability at Blair Castle this year”.
Holly Woodhead (based Wiltshire, originally from Yorkshire): “It’s crazy! I’m overwhelmed, it’s not sunk in yet and I don’t think it will until I’m there with all the seniors. The World Class Programme has given me the most incredible support and been a major part in how successful I’ve been up until now, along with the support of my family, friends and home team none of this would have been possible.
“I’ve heard so many great things about Blair and I love Ian Stark courses, can’t wait to see what he’s built and I just want to get there and ride it now! It definitely helps to have home support; I can’t get my head around being a senior, as I’m still a young rider. Being on home turf will just make it amazing, you can have everyone there to support and to have the experience of more senior British team members there for advice I feel very lucky!”
Also entered as reserves:
- Charlotte Agnew with Mrs Elizabeth Agnew’s Out of Africa Two
- Sarah Bullimore with Mr Chris Gillespie and Mr Brett Bullimore’s Reve du Rouet
- Nana Dalton with Miss Emily Roser’s Abbeylara Prince
- Millie Dumas with Mrs Susan Larson and Millie’s Artistiek
- Dani Evans with Mrs Vanessa Watson’s Raphael II
- Piggy French with Ms Jayne McGivern’s Seapatrick Dark Cruise
- Pippa Funnell with Roger and Denise Lincoln’s Redesigned
- Louise Harwood with Mr Roy Baker and Emma Baker-Jones’s Whitson
- Louisa Milne-Home with her own King Eider
- Emily Llewellyn with Mrs Cindy Llewellyn and Mrs Nicolette Gidley Wright’s Greenlawn Sky High
- Willa Newton with Mr Joey Newton’s Newmarket Vasco One
- Georgie Strang with Mrs Jenny Newton’s Cooley Business Time
- Oliver Townend with Mr Paul Ridgeon and Mrs Diana Ridgeon Armada
- Francis Whittington with Mrs Catherine Witt’s Fernhill Highlight
- Nicola Wilson with Mrs Valerie Robson and Mrs Ann Robson’s Beltane Queen