British Eventing’s world class performance manager, Yogi Breisner, has today announced the final four members of the 12-strong squad set to represent Britain at the FEI Blenheim Petplan European Championships (8 – 11 September, 2005).

Speaking at a press conference to launch British Eventing’s new partnership with Volkswagen, Breisner said: “There were a number of horse and rider combinations in consideration for just four places, so the senior selectors have had a tough time. However we are delighted to announce that Zara Phillips, James Robinson, Oliver Townend and Matthew Wright will all make their senior squad debut”.

Consistent four-star form during the past few years, including a fourth place at the 2004 Badminton Horse Trials, has finally won James Robinson a place on the squad. Robinson, 37, from Leominster, will be riding Comanche, Joyce Robinson’s 16.2hh gelding by I’m a Star.

Oliver Townend, 23, has been enjoying a particularly successful season, winning the advanced under-25 section at Weston Park in April. Following a 12th place in his Badminton debut Townend, who has recently set up his own yard, will ride William Russell’s Topping, a 16.1hh chestnut gelding, in September’s European Championships.

The 2003 Young Rider team silver medallist Matthew Wright, 23, and his own Park Pilot have been very consistent at three-star level, finishing fourth at Bramham and second at Blenheim in 2004. The combination got off to a good start this season winning an advanced section at Witton Castle in March and finishing fifth in the advanced under-25 at Weston Park in April.

An impressive second place in the four star at Luhmuhlen this weekend has ensured Zara Phillips and Candor Index’s Toytown a position on the squad. The competition was the first short-format four-star to take place on the continent. Phillips and Toytown were runners up to Pippa Funnell’s infamous Grand Slam win at Burghley in 2003 and were also silver medallists at the Young Rider European championships in 2002. This weekend’s result was particularly timely for Phillips as a seventh place in the advanced section at Rolleston in May is the only other outing she has had on Toytown this season.

Four reserve horses have also been listed following recent form from certain team members; Ensign (Pippa Funnell), Tom Quigley (Polly Stockton), Mr Dumbledore and Idalgo (William Fox-Pitt). However, should anything happen to Funnell or Fox-Pitt’s team horses their reserve horses may not be automatically substituted directly onto the team.

The British squad in full

  • Kitty Boggis (Five Boys)
  • Jeanette Brakewell (Over To You) *
  • Daisy Dick (Spring Along)
  • William Fox-Pitt (Tamarillo) *
  • Pippa Funnell (Primmore’s Pride) *
  • Leslie Law (Shear L’eau or Coup de Coeur) *
  • Zara Phillips (Toytown)
  • James Robinson (Comanche)
  • Polly Stockton (Tangleman)
  • Marie Louise (Bumble) Thomas (The Psephologist)
  • Oliver Townend (Topping)
  • Matthew Wright (Park Pilot)

(* = team member)