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Blair Castle horse trialsThe focus of the 2015 eventing season for many elite competitors is the European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle, Scotland (10-13 September).

Having a championship “at home” offers a particular opportunity for British riders, as the host nation can field 12 pairs, rather than the usual six. The squad selected for the championship are: Laura Collett (Grand Manoeuvre), Dani Evans (Smart Time), William Fox-Pitt (Bay My Hero), Pippa Funnell (Sandman 7), Flora Harris (Bayano), Kitty King (Persimmon), Gemma Tattersall (Arctic Soul), Izzy Taylor (Allercombe Ellie), Oliver Townend (Fenyas Elegance), Francis Whittington (Easy Target), Nicola Wilson (One Two Many), Holly Woodhead (DHI Lupison).

Blair also offers a chance for nations which have not already qualified for the 2016 Olympics to secure a spot. Brazil have an automatic place at the Games as the hosts, with the six best teams from the 2014 World Equestrian Games having also already qualified — they were Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, France, Australia and Ireland. Canada gained their place after the French team was eliminated from WEG following the outcome of the doping case affecting Maxime Livio’s Qalao Des Mers.

The best two countries at Blair who have not already qualified will pick up their Olympic qualification.

Across the pond, the USA picked up their qualification at the Pan Am Games in July.

Aside from championships and Olympic qualification, the four-stars are as hotly contested as usual. Badminton in May went to William Fox-Pitt, who secured his second title here and made history by riding the first stallion winner, Chilli Morning. The lead was held from the outset by William’s old rival, New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson, but he faltered in the final phase and dropped to sixth place on Nereo. Meanwhile William’s showjumping clear moved him up from second after dressage and cross-country to top spot.

Two weeks earlier the American four-star at Kentucky went to German star Michael Jung, riding the 2014 WEG individual silver medallist FischerRocana FST. He also finished third on his wonderful old campaigner La Biosthetique-Sam FBW.

At Luhmühlen, Germany, in June, the home side’s Ingrid Klimke secured the title on Escada JS. This was her second win at the level after taking Pau last autumn on Horseware Hale Bob, also runner-up at Badminton this year.

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