Britain looks on course for a record sixth consecutive European title at the FEI Blenheim Petplan European Eventing Championships (8 – 11 September 2005) with this year’s squad.
British team hopes in the short-format three-star event will be carried by four members of Britain’s silver medal-winning Olympic team from Athens: Leslie Law, Pippa Funnell, William Fox-Pitt and Jeanette Brakewell. As the host nation, Britain can also field up to eight individuals, of which four have been selected following strong performance this spring. They are Polly Stockton, Daisy Dick, Marie Louise (Bumble) Thomas and Kitty Boggis. The remaining four riders will be announced in June.
Individual Olympic champion Leslie Law has two horses to choose from, his Athens partner Shear L’Eau, who is currently recovering from a fall at the Vicarage Vee at Badminton or Coup de Coeur, who was third at the recent Rolex Kentucky CCI****.
Pippa Funnell will be looking for her third individual European title with her Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials winner Primmore’s Pride, who will be contesting his first short-format international event since Athens. A new breaking system on the cross-country at Badminton appeared to have solved this incredible partnership control problems and it is hoped that their outstanding form will continue for Blenheim.
Jeanette Brakewell’s consistent veteran performer Over to You, 17, will be looking for an eighth championship medal to make him Britain’s most successful championship horse. Fifth at Badminton, this long-standing partnership shows no signs of being past their best and will be looking forward to representing their country yet again.
William Fox-Pitt completes the team quartet with Mary Guinness’s 2004 Badminton winner Tamarillo, who appeared to have recovered amazingly well from his stifle injury in Athens last year when coming second to Primmore’s Pride at Badminton. Fox-Pitt will undoubtedly be hoping that his talented partner will be more bidable in the dressage phase at the Europeans than he was at the Gloucestershire event.
Individual rider Polly Stockton has made a return to the British squad following a two-year absence. She will ride Tangle Man, who finished ninth at Badminton. Daisy Dick last represented Britain in 1997 at the European Championships at Burghley and she will be flying the Union Jack once again, this time with Spring Along (eight at Badminton).
Two British team debutantes, Bumble (Marie Louise) Thomas (The Psephologist) and Kitty Boggis (Five Boys), will receive their first senior Union Jacks.
British Eventing’s Winnie Murphy is quietly confident about Britain’s position as favourites for a sixth title, but believes that neither the French nor the Germans should be discounted.
“The French were so strong at the Olympics and are really good allrounders with four-star horse power, while Germany’s results at Chatsworth shows they cannot be discounted. They are very strong in the dressage and the Europeans will be a three-star course, the same as Chatsworth,” she explains.
“But Britain does have the home advantage which counts for a lot. Combined with the recent Badminton results and our previous domination at the Europeans, it must put us as favourites.”
For all the latest news on the European Championships and to book tickets visit: www.blenheim-horse.co.uk