Last-minute change to British squad for eventing European Championships as top horse suffers ‘minor accident’

Tom McEwen has withdrawn Toledo De Kerser from the British squad at this week’s Longines FEI European Eventing Championships in Luhmühlen. The horse has suffered “a minor incident during routine work at home”.

Pippa Funnell has received the call-up to replace Tom, riding her own and Marek Sebastak’s Majas Hope. Pippa was European champion in 1999 and 2001 riding Supreme Rock and has won seven European Championship medals in total. Majas Hope makes his championship debut.

Tom and Toledo De Kerser’s withdrawal will be a blow to the British team as they were expected to deliver a strong score after contributing to world team gold at the World Equestrian Games last year.

Tom said: “Obviously I’m very disappointed not to be competing in Luhmühlen. This was a very minor accident but given how close we are to the championships, I thought the most prudent step was to withdraw. The welfare of my horses is always my number one priority, and I would not consider competing Toledo De Kerser unless he was on top form. As upset as I am not to be travelling with the team to Germany, I will absolutely be cheering them on back home.”

Jane Inns, who co-owns Toledo De Kerser with Fred and Penny Barker and Tom’s mother Ali, said: “It’s disappointing, but this was a minor accident and we all agreed that he shouldn’t take such a long journey to Germany in the next few days. Toledo De Kerser is such a talented horse and his welfare is of course our top priority.”

British eventing chef d’equipe Richard Waygood commented: “This is a sad loss for us, and obviously disappointing for Tom and all his connections, but we still have an exceptionally strong team heading to Luhmühlen.”

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Team GBR performance director Vikki Underwood said: “I’m very sad for Tom not being able to represent his country on this occasion. The welfare of the horse is our paramount concern, and this talented partnership will no doubt represent us again in the future. We are absolutely confident that Pippa will be the perfect replacement because she brings such a wealth of experience and team spirit.”

Pippa will join Piggy French (Quarrycrest Echo), Tina Cook (Billy The Red), Oliver Townend (Cooley Master Class), Laura Collett (London 52) and Kitty King (Vendredi Biats) on the British squad at the championships.

Full preview of the European Championships in the issue of Horse & Hound on sale now (dated 22 August).