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Riders chosen to join elite BEF programme

Event riders Nicola Wilson (pictured), Lucy Wiegersma and Ruth Edge, and para-equestrian dressage rider Sophie Wells are to be promoted from the British Equestrian Federation’s (BEF) World Class Development Programme to the World Class Performance Programme.

The lottery-funded World Class Performance Programme, which incorporates the Olympic sports of dressage, eventing and show jumping, and the Paralympic sport of para-equestrian dressage, provides Britain’s elite riders with the best preparation for international competition.

Will Connell, BEF World Class Performance director, said, “The promotion of these riders shows the depth of talent we have in this country. The standard of riding on the Performance Program continues to improve year on year.”

Nicola has enjoyed consistently good results since finishing 16th in her four-star debut at Badminton in 2007.

In 2008 she was placed in the top five in the British Open and Burghley, and to date has achieved top five finishes at Burgie, Bramham and Burnham Market.

Lucy Weigersma, who has ranked in British Eventing’s top ten for the last two years, came second at Badminton in 2008 and was selected to represent Great Britain in the 2008 Olympics with Shaabrak.

Although unable to compete in Beijing due to an injury, the pair are back on form, finishing 6th at Badminton this year.

Ruth Edge also has an impressive record, taking the title at the British Open Championships in 2004 and 2008, winning the Scottish Open Championships in 2006 and securing four-star victory at Luhmülen in 2004.

This year she achieved a top ten finish at Badminton, a second place at Luhmülen and a first and second place at Burnham Market.

Sophie Wells, at 19 the youngest rider on the World Class Performance Programme, became the first para rider to win an able-bodied international competition when she took the title of the Hickstead Under-21 International in 2008.

This year she has dominated the grade IV section of the Para Equestrian Dressage International competition at Hartpury, riding to victory in the individual, team and freestyle tests.

The BEF development programme is divided into start and potential squads across each discipline, and to be considered for the programme, riders must meet set minimum criteria, attend numerous ridden assessments and an interview.

Selection for the World Class Performance Programme is based on results combined with the potential of riders to contribute to team success at major championships. Following selection, riders’ performance is continuously assessed and reviewed.

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