Despite the notable absence of Nadine Capellmann’s World Champion ride Farbenfroh and World Cup runners-up Debbie McDonald with Brentina, the action at Hickstead will not be short of stunning combinations.

World number one Ulla Salzgeber and Rusty have been confirmed for the German team despite the ongoing dispute over a positive dope test at this year’s world cup.

America’s Lisa Wilcox and Relevant, ranked second in the world by the FEI, will be looking to improve on their individual fifth place at WEG last year, as will Beatriz Ferrer-Salat, who took the individual silver medal with Beauvalais on home ground at WEG.

Isabell Werth looks like she may have found a worthy successor to Gigolo in nine-year-old Satchmo, and Kyra Kyrkland has the eye-catching powerful grey Andiano Tyme, who is sure to enjoy considerable support from the British crowds.

Unfortunately Anky Van Grunsven has had to withdraw from the competition due to a minor leg problem.

Don’t miss today’s Horse & Hound (7 August) for the complete lowdown on the favourites for the individual European medals, from British team member Richard Davison and international judge Judy Harvey

Going for Olympic glory

The British team must finish as one of the top two teams not already qualified for the Athens Olympics if we are to attend the games in 2004. This means Britain must beat all but one of the following countries at the Europeans: Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Ireland, Japan and Russia.

Britain’s top riders and trainers believe that Austria, Finland and Russia are the most likely countries to prevent us from claiming one of the two Olympic slots still available. Average scores of around 68% are also required or the British Olympic Association has threatened not to send a team, although this seems unlikely if we do bag an Olympic ticket.

The British riders’ who can look forward to getting a special lift from an enthusiastic home crowd are:

Emile Faurie (Rascher Hopes): Been together for four years and was the best British combination at the Sydney Olympics. A solid combination who can be relied on to deliver the goods

Nicola McGivern (Active Walero): Selected for the British team at Aachen but had to withdraw due to travel sickness. This will be their first time on a British team. Walero has been described as “perhaps the most talented horse ever to have competed for Britain”

Richard Davison (Ballaseyr Royale): Britain’s number one partnership at present, this combination scored 68% in the grand prix at Aachen

Emma Hindle (Wie Weltmeyer): Has showed huge improvement since their early days together more than three years ago. Britain’s highest scorers in the Grand Prix at Aachen with 69.25%.

Britain’s reserve rider is Carl Hester with Escapado.

Hickstead highlights

  • Hickstead will also host the Rhinegold British Young Horse Championships on the opening day (Wednesday, 13 August), with the best five and six-year-olds in Britain displaying their talents as potential British team horses of the future.
  • The Berkeley Group British Pas de Deux Championship is expected to be one of the most popular competitions at the event, with pairs of riders performing dressage to music. The champions will go forward to a special “International Challenge” against an invited international pair.
  • The International Sports Horse and Sports Medicine Symposium, a forum for world-renowned veterinarians and physicians to discuss matters of physiology and psychology in equestrian sport, will also take place during the event.
  • Visit the Horse & Hound trade stand to enter a free prize draw to win £1,000 worth of Harry Hall clothing plus one of two pairs Konig Leather Riding boots worth £500. Special subscription offers will also be available at the event.
  • The championship will have its own unique theme music, the Hickstead Symphony, which has been co written by Anky’s musical director Cees Slings and Mike Rutherford of Genesis fame. To listen to the symphony click here on the arrow below the image.
  • There will only be grandstand seated viewing around the international dressage arena, due to the space taken up by the stands. Anyone wishing to see the dressage competition must have a seat. With only a limited number available on each day, advance booking is strongly recommended.
  • Competitors, grooms and show support staff will be able to check emails and surf the net thanks to the cyber café in the “Chow Tent”. Visit www.horseandhound.co.uk to stay in touch with the latest news from throughout the equestrian world including daily updates from the European Dressage Championships and the Hickstead Derby.
  • Dogs will be allowed on the showground but must be kept on a lead. Dogs are not permitted in the dressage grandstand or hospitality facilities.
  • Click here to check out the complete timetable of events at the European Championships.
  • TV times: Sunday Grandstand (BBC2) on 17 August is going to include highlights of the grand prix to music individual final, following live coverage of the Hickstead Derby. Sky Sports is also planning to broadcast highlights of the grand prix to music individual final. All times listed are subject to alteration so please check your daily newspaper and teletext TV guides.
  • Tickets are available from Ticketmaster (tel: 0870 060 2328 (24hr)) and at all Ticketmaster ticket centres nationwide or book online at www.ticketmaster.co.uk
  • For more information about the European Dressage Championships visit: www.edc2003.com