The year has got off to a flying start for three up-and-coming riders with the news they have made the elite World Class performance list.
The programme aims to provide “the best preparation to represent equestrian Team GBR”.
Michael Eilberg joins the dressage list — alongside last summer’s Olympic gold medallists — while Gemma Tattersall and Izzy Taylor have both made the eventing performance squad.
But some familiar faces — including eventers Oliver Townend, Polly Stockton and Ruth Edge, as well as para dressage’s Ricky Balshaw — have come off the list because they have not achieved the required results in competition.
“I was chuffed beyond belief to get the call,” said Gemma. “At the beginning of 2012 I was still on the development programme and clinging on for dear life, because I didn’t have an advanced horse.
“But my young horses went from strength to strength. Arctic Soul progressed from novice to three-star and then Chico Bella was sixth in the CIC*** eight- and nine-year-old class at Blenheim.”
Gemma also picked up the ride on Stormhill Kossack, finishing 10th at Pau.
Izzy Taylor delivered some impressive results last season, including seventh at Burghley with Briarlands Matilda.
Michael Eilberg was longlisted for the Olympics and he told H&H that moving up to the performance list was a boost to his ambitions.
“My aim is the European Championships with Half Moon Delphi, so to have the added funding and support is great news.”
Riders on the performance list receive what Michael described as a “network of communication and support”, including access to team vets, farriers and physiotherapists.
There is also funding to help with travel expenses, stabling at competitions overseas and veterinary issues.
Michael and Gemma are graduates of the BEF’s World Class development scheme, which identifies and develops potential top riders.
It offers regular training days and help with fitness, nutrition and planning competitions.
Michael’s sister Maria is on the development programme’s dressage list this year, while Chloe Aston and Jessica Mendoza are among the newcomers to the showjumping squad.
And eventer Charlotte Agnew — fifth at Luhmühlen with Out Of Africa last year — is thrilled to be back after a two-year absence.
“It makes you aware of all the little details, like physio and nutrition,” she said.
The Oxfordshire-based rider also benefits from lessons with Yogi Breisner.
“Everything he says is a real gem and I’m so lucky to have his input,” she added.
Riders who have not been re-selected for the programme include eventers Emily Baldwin and H&H blogger Lauren Shannon, following injuries to her top rides Zero Flight and Gentel Lux.
“It was a brilliant experience and I don’t think that will be the last time I’m on it,” said Lauren.
BEF performance director Will Connell added that, as plans for the Rio Olympics funding unfolded, he hoped to “expand the breadth of riders and horses that we support”.
Team GBR’s record medal haul at London 2012 helped to secure equestrianism an additional £4.5million funding for the Rio Olympiad.
For the full lists, visit www.equestrianteamgbr.co.uk
This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (31 January 2013)