It’s day one of the FEI European Showjumping Championships and the pressure is soaring higher than the Madrid sun. It’s hot, hot, hot.
We’re all anxious for the competition to get started and we begin with the speed leg this afternoon.
Rob Hoekstra has announced his final four riders for the British team – Nick Skelton (Carlo), Guy Williams (Titus), John Whitaker (Peppermill) and Ben Maher (Tripple X III). Fifth man, Scott Brash, will compete in the non-championship classes later this week.
For the Irish, chef d’equipe Robert Splaine has chosen Billy Twomey (Tinka’s Serenade), Shane Sweetnam (Amaretto Darco), Denis Lynch (Lantinus) and Nicola Fitzgibbon (Puissance).
The drawn order was made last night, amid great ceremony, as follows: 1, Spain; 2, Great Britain; 3, Poland; 4, Switzerland; 5, Ireland; 6, Netherlands; 7, Sweden; 8, Norway; 9, Italy; 10, Belgium; 11, Denmark; 13, France; 14, Germany; 15, Hungary; 16, Austria.
We commence with a parade of nations – with the riders on foot, rather than horseback – and then the championships commence. There are great expectations here at the Club De Campo – who will be crowned the new European champions? And who will earn Olympic qualification? Let’s find out…