Robert Smith (pictured) and Michael Whitaker will be carrying the pride of British show jumping on their shoulders when they travel to Geneva to contest the prestigious Top Ten Final on Saturday 11 December.
This year sees the fourth running of this event, which was introduced in 2001 and has yet to be won by a British rider. It is open to the 10 highest placed riders in the FEI Gandini World Jumping Riders Rankings.
Athens Olympian Robert Smith is currently ranked in 10th place, ensuring his spot in the final line-up, while 11th-placed Michael Whitaker has benefited from fifth placed American rider Beezie Madden being unable to take part.
Jacky Knightly of the BSJA described the news that two British riders had reached the Top Ten final as “superb”. She continued, “British riders have always been significant in the world, and it’s a reflection of how strong British show jumping is that we have two riders in the Top 10 final.”
The field includes the two previous winners of the title: Ludger Beerbaum, who won with Goldfever in 2001 and Gladdys S in 2002, and Rodrigo Pessoa, who won last year with Baloubet du Rouet.
Germany’s strength and depth in the sport is clear to see with half of the qualified riders taking part hailing from the country, including Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, Marcus Ehning, Toni Hassmann and Otto Becker. Switzerland’s Markus Fuchs and Belgium’s Ludo Philippaerts complete the line up. Another German rider, Lars Nieberg, is poised to take part if any of the riders are unable to do so.