OPINION

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The senior selection panel’s aim this year is to choose a team to travel to the World Equestrian Games (WEG, 12-16 September) to qualify for the Olympics in 2020. We have to finish in the top six at Tryon so we’ll need average scores of 75% — no mean feat. The riders must perform at international competitions to be selected, then the onus is on them to perform when it matters most — at the championship.

Selection policies cover CDIs and the senior championship and we set the bar quite high — riders should be competitive.

The Nations Cup series is helpful in team selection. While riders work with support teams, rarely are they put in a position where they have to consider others and the impact of their own performance on a team.

At Compiègne CDIO a few weeks ago, Becky Moody had to withdraw Carinsio before the trot-up, adding pressure on the remaining three. Hayley Watson-Greaves suddenly had to ride the grand prix special test and not the freestyle as planned — she was a great team player.

We’ll send teams to Aachen, Rotterdam and Hickstead CDIOs and announce the WEG team and non-travelling reserves at the end of July.

I’m in constant contact with World Class performance manager Caroline Griffith and the British Dressage (BD) international officers Lianne Martin and Sharon Weir. Caroline keeps me updated with riders’ comments, as well as feedback from the support staff on equine and human fitness.

Building bridges

In February, BD released the findings of a useful under-21 strategic review. As a result, I now head the selection panels for the youth teams to provide continuity and share best practice from the seniors. It’s exhausting, but I enjoy meeting so many riders. Selection must be based on openness and trust. We’re keen to develop the FEI’s newest championship, children on horses, which is for 11- to 14-year-olds with elementary tests. It’s a great bridge to juniors as riders can bring on a younger horse if they don’t have the means to buy a pony or junior team prospect.

Selection for the European Championship Team NAF youth squads will be fierce. A home pony championship at Bishop Burton (7-12 August) adds pressure to secure a podium spot. Bolesworth (13-17 June) has added pony squad viewing classes, so those not in the pony classes at Hagen the same week can ride on a big stage.

Fontainebleau (9-15 July) hosts the junior, young rider and children on horses championships. Our juniors are in a transitional phase so we may not send a full team, while there are six or seven young riders all scoring at selection level, so it’ll be tight. Our talented under-25s could well be in the medal zone at Roosendaal (13-18 August). I’m mindful members’ money funds the teams, so it has to be used wisely.

Our next step is to appoint a youth performance manager to oversee the teams.

Selectors need discretion and a politician’s diplomacy — and, at times, the ability to act as an agony aunt.

Ref: Horse & Hound; 31 May 2018