Boost for Britain’s Olympic medal hopes

  • Britain’s most promising dressage riders, who have the potential to represented Britain at future Olympic and Paralympic Games, have been selected to receive Lottery-funded assistance through the 2005 World Class Start and Potential Dressage and Paralympic programmes.

    The World Class Potential dressage squad welcomes the arrival of Laura Bechtolsheimer, who has stepped up from the 2004 Start squad, and Andrew Gould. They will both receive “gold” level funding alongside established squad members Maria Eilberg, Sarah Millis and Spencer Wilton. Silver level support has been offered to Jodie Lister, Becky Moody and Darryl Thicket.

    Henry Boswell and Anne-Marie Perry will receive gold support through the World Class Start scheme, while new faces Emily Cousins and Joanne James both join the scheme at silver level. Natalie Allen retains her place on the start squad with bronze level support.

    Changes to this year’s scheme saw the successful introduction of viewing days, where riders could demonstrate their skills in front of a viewing panel. From around 100 applications, 40 riders were invited to the viewing day, where nine were short-listed to attend the ridden selections trials, alongside the previous squad. The final squad of five Start riders and eight Potential riders was then selected.

    Other changes to the scheme include a tired funding structure incorporating gold, silver and bronze levels within each of the Start and the Potential programmes. This enables all riders on the scheme to enjoy the same benefits, but the level of individual funding will vary depending on the level assigned to them, based upon their performance at the selection trials. Future movement between the levels has not been ruled out.

    The Paralympic dressage viewing days were run in conjunction with the Paralympic Talent Spotting event, at Moreton Morrell College on 17-18 February. Eight riders were short-listed to attend the final selection trials, along with the 11 current squad riders, from which eight riders were chosen to join the Paralympic Dressage Start programme and four riders for the Paralympic Dressage Potential programme.

    They are:


    • WC Gold: Toby Pawson, Sophie Wells
    • WC Silver: Felicity Coulthard, Emma Kent, Alex McNamara, Daniel Manning
    • WC Bronze: Natasha Baker, Rory Williams


    • W C Gold Level: Lara Dennis, Emma Sheardown, Liz Stone
    • W C Silver Level: Tracey Morely-Jewkes

    A small number of younger riders in both disciplines have been selected onto a peripheral programme, where they will be invited to attend a couple of squad sessions to introduce them to the World Class system. This level of support will be offered to:

    • Dressage – Start: Natalie Bushell, Keri Bates, Melissa Beer, Samantha Harrison, Portia Manning, Georgina Roberts and Alice Thompson
    • Para Dressage – Start: Tamsin Hughes and Edward Channin
    • Para Dressage – Potential: Andrew Brockman

    It is expected that this will be the final time that selection trials of this nature will be held for entry onto the scheme prior to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, as the programme moves to a four-year cycle that will be governed by quarterly evaluations and talent ID.

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