One British and 2 Irish riders are among 29 young showjumpers gunning for an elite place on a new European program designed to help future professionals.

The academy, developed by non-profit association Athenaeum, will give 5 talented riders aged 18-23 a free six-month training placement with a top showjumper. Besides riding, the programme includes education in communication, business and economics, veterinary and legal practice related to the sport to help young riders develop associated managerial skills.

“This project represents a completely new concept for promising riders with a broad formula to help future professionals,” said Athenaeum’s Breido Graf zu Rantzau.

Fellow board member Eleonora Moroni added that she hoped it would “transform training”.

“The goal is not just to help athletes, but to educate them to a modern sport system which requires further skills.”

Each European Federation was allowed to put up to 4 candidates forward, or riders were selected on the basis of results at young rider and junior European Championships.

29 have been selected to compete at CSIs at either last weekend’s Toscana Tour, Italy (10-13 April) or next month’s Landgestüt Redefin, Germany (9-11 May). 

A selection panel, consisting of Otto Becker, Jean-Maurice Bonneau, Emile Hendrix and Sven Holmberg, will pick the final 5 at the end of May, who will train with Ludger Beerbaum, Rolf Göran Bentsson, Dietmar Gugler, Gilbert de Roock or Kévin Staut.

While the British Equestrian Federation did not submit any candidates, English rider James Shore, successful at pony and junior level, is in the running. Bertram Allen and Kellie Allen represent Ireland. Out of the 13 nations, there are 4 riders from Italy, 3 from Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and Switzerland.

The academy is backed by the European Equestrian Federation, the International Jumping Riders Club and Rolex.