The British teams selected for the Junior and Young Rider European Dressage Championships, in Barzago, Italy (15-17 July) combine considerable talent and experience at international level with many of the riders having represented their country previously.

The Young Riders look on medal-winning form with last year’s bronze medallists Laura Bechtolsheimer (20), Maria Eilberg (21) and Holly Burrough (21) all selected for the team once again. They are joined by World Class Start Dressage Squad gold member Henry Boswell, 18, who is making the step up from last year’s junior team.

Bechtolsheimer finished fifth individually at last year’s championships in Denmark and will be hoping for success this year with her talented Danish warmblood Mistral Højris, who was bought from Danish rider Hasse Hoffman earlier this year.

Eilberg, who has been getting senior international mileage under her belt with her grand prix horse Two Sox, will ride Topscore for the team. Boswell will be riding his Junior team horse D.H.I. Faederlite, and Burrough will compete her established partner Orivieto. Chef d’equipe Jennie Loriston-Clarke will be accompanying them to Italy, along with team trainer Henk van Bergen.

The Junior team also includes some familiar faces, with last year’s European team members Anne-Marie Perry and Emily Cousins both selected once again. They are joined this time by Georgina Somerset and Natalie Allen. The team will be hoping to improve on last year’s eighth place.

Junior team chef d’equipe, Caroline Griffith is positive about the team’s chances in Italy saying: “It is a strong team with experienced riders”.

At 16, Cousins is the youngest member of the squad but she already has European championship experience under her belt with Ludo II, the former ride of World Class Potential rider Sarah Millis. Perry has a choice of her 2004 European ride Forrest Fire or World Classic, while Allen will be riding Rapino, and Somerset has been selected with Paris 52. For Cousins and Somerset the next few weeks are going to be particularly hectic, as they have to sit exams before turning their attention to the Europeans.

Members of both squads are currently working with their own trainers, exercising in the heat of day to acclimatise themselves and their horses to the Italian temperatures. In a fortnight they will leave for Italy by way of a short training camp at the Bechtolsheimer’s farm in Switzerland, which is only a 70-mile drive away from Barzago.

Meanwhile there has been disappointment for the Irish dressage world whose hopes of fielding a team for the European Dressage Championships in Moscow, Russia next month have been dashed by the news that James Connor‘s 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Chapmann, has been put down. Italian-based Connor has had little luck recently having lost his up-and-coming grand prix ride, nine-year-old Wild Lion, to colic at the Lipica CDI-W shows in Slovenia a fortnight ago.

Connor and Chapmann had a successful trip to Portugal at the beginning of May, taking second place in the grand prix special and fourth in the grand prix at Lisbon CDI3*, qualifying them for the European Dressage Championships. It now looks likely that Heike Holstein and Welt Adel will be the sole Irish individual representative at the European Dressage Championships in Moscow.

  • Ferdi Eilberg had a successful show in the Netherlands at the weekend, with second place in the grand prix special with Teutone Z, after being placed seventh in the grand prix. The Dutch dominated the action in Rotterdam, European City of Sport 2005, with Kirsten Beckers scoring a hat trick of wins. British riders Maria Eilberg and Peter Storr were also in action. Storr was eighth in the grand prix and ninth in the freestyle with Gambrinus, while Maria and Two Sox were 25th in the grand prix and 13th in the freestyle.