It’s crazy! I’m overwhelmed: riders react to European eventing squad call-up PICTURES

  • Following the announcement of the British squad of 12 for the Longines FEI European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle (10-13 September), we bring you all of the facts and figures about the selected horses and riders.

    Meet the British eventing squad for the Europeans

    Sarah Bullimore


    Age: 42
    From: Keysoe, north Bedfordshire
    Horse: 11-year-old Lilly Corinne
    Owner: Rider and her husband Brett Bullimore
    Previous success: Sarah has competed at the top level for 20 years and is renowned for producing young horses. She has produced her Blair mount from scratch and notable results include fourth at Waregem CIC3* in 2013 and seventh at Boekelo CCI3* in 2012 whien this mare was just an eight-year-old. Sarah was called up to the British Europeans squad at the 11th hour when Dani Evans’ horse was found to be under the weather.
    What you might not know: Some will remember her as Sarah Longshaw riding Ballycotton to his record breaking seventh completion of Badminton in 1997

    Laura Collett

    Isleham Horse Trials on 08 03 2015 - Archive No : TR 895

    Age: 25
    From: Lambourn, Berkshire
    Horse: 11-year-old Grand Manoeuvre (Milo)
    Owner: Diana Chappell
    Previous success: Laura already has a whopping seven European gold medals to her name as a result of huge success throughout her pony, junior and young rider career. Since Laura took over the ride on ‘Milo’ from Nick Gauntlett last year, the combination has jumped double clear at all four of their CIC3* starts and jumped clear cross-country around Badminton Horse Trials this year.
    What you might not know: Laura’s horsey career started in the show ring and she qualified for the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) every year from 1996 to 2003. She won the Supreme Pony Championship here in 2003.
    Her reaction to selection:

    William Fox-Pitt

    William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero at Rolex Kentucky 2015. Picture by Julia Shearwood

    Age: 46
    From: Hinton St Mary, Dorset
    Horse: 12-year-old Bay My Hero (Moonie)
    Owner: Catherine Witt
    Previous success: A man who needs no introduction, William has won an incredible 14 CCI4*s during his illustrious career, including Badminton this year, and has collected several senior team medals along the way. ‘Moonie’ was fourth at Kentucky CCI4* this year, fourth at Burghley Horse Trials in 2014, was the winner in Kentucky in 2014 and was fourth at Pau CCI4* in 2012.
    What you might not know: William’s mother, Marietta Speed, rode at the 1967 European Championships and his father also completed Badminton and Burghley.
    His reaction to selection: “I’m very honoured to have been selected and very pleased for Catherine Witt, owner of all three of my selected horses (William also has Fernhill Pimms and Luxury FH as direct reserve horses), it is much deserved recognition of the huge support she gives me.”

    Pippa Funnell

    Pippa Funnell - Sandman 7

    Age: 46
    From: Dorking, Surrey
    Horse: Nine-year-old Sandman 7 (Sandman)
    Owner: Her mother Jenny Noland and Ruth McMullen and rider
    Previous success: Pippa is the only rider to have ever won the Rolex Grand Slam of eventing, where in 2003 she won Kentucky, Badminton and Burghley. She has won numerous medals at European and Olympic level. Notable successes so far with Sandman include winning the CIC3* class at Chatsworth this year and claiming sixth place at Bramham CCI3* just a few weeks ago.
    What you might not know: When Pippa and her mother, Jenny bought Sandman they decided to give Ruth McMullen a share for her 80th birthday present as a “thank you” for how instrumental Ruth has been throughout Pippa’s career.
    Her reaction to selection: “Surprised, delighted and excited. It is such a thrill to receive that phone call and once again a huge honour to be selected.”

    Kitty King


    Age: 32
    From: Lower Stanton St. Quinton, Wiltshire
    Horse: 10-year-old Persimmon (Percy)
    Owner: Jane and Frank Inns
    Previous success: Kitty was the first rider to represent their country at pony, junior, young rider and senior level. ‘Percy’ has notched some very good results at CCI3* level with Kitty including fifth at Boekelo CCI3* in 2013, sixth at Blenheim CCI3* in 2014 and second at Bramham CCI3* this year.
    What you might not know: Kitty’s sister, Lucy Boggis was an international heptathlete and used to be Tempest in the TV show Gladiators.
    Her reaction to selection:

    Wills Oakden

    Wills Oakden - Greystone Midnight Melody


    Age: 25
    From: Fife, Scotland
    Horse: 12-year-old Greystone Midnight Melody (Molly)
    Owner: David Kenwright
    Previous success: Wills was young rider team gold medallist at the 2011 Europeans at Blair Castle. He has since gone on to enjoy plenty of success across the levels including 2nd place at Blair CIC3* in 2014 and 7th at Tattersalls CCI3* this year both on his Europeans ride, Molly. Interestingly Molly’s owner is also her breeder. David Kenwright, who lives on Greystone Farm in Aberdeenshire bred horses as a hobby from his late stallion and Molly’s sire, Greystone Pathfinder, who Wills evented to one-star level.
    What you might not know: Wills worked for eventing legend and Blair’s cross-country course designer, Ian Stark, for three years.
    His reaction to selection: “I’m delighted for my whole extensive support team, including Greystone Midnight Melody’s owners and breeders David and Sylvia who have given me incredible backing and support for a number of years, and most importantly Molly herself who has tried her heart out for all of us and taken us all on an incredible journey.”

    Gemma Tattersall

    ARCTIC SOUL - Gemma Tattersall

    Age: 30
    From: Horsham, West Sussex
    Horse: 12-year-old Arctic Soul (Spike)
    Owner: The Soul Syndicate
    Previous success: Gemma won team gold medals at both the 2005 and 2006 Young Rider European Championships. She has since gone on to successfully compete at CCI4* level. With ‘Spike’ she jumped clear across country at this year’s Badminton and was fifth at Burghley in 2014.
    What you might not know: Gemma won the junior (under 17) Riding Club dressage Championship at the age of eight.
    Their reaction to selection: “When I saw Yogi’s call my heart missed a beat; it was a massive relief to hear from him, I was speechless in fact which Yogi pointed out is rare!”

    Izzy Taylor

    Izzy Taylor and Briarlands Matilda

    Age: 32
    From: Banbury, Oxfordshire
    Horse: 15-year-old KBIS Briarlands Matilda (Matilda)
    Owner: Guy Avis
    Previous success: Izzy took over the ride on Matilda in 2008 from Tristram Owers when he broke his ankle and she has stayed with Izzy since. She was seventh at Burghley and third at Bramham CCI3* 2012. They also represented Great Britain at senior level for the first time in 2013 at the European Championships in Malmö. This combination were seventh at Burghley again in 2014. Matilda steps in for Izzy’s original ride, Allercombe Ellie who went lame.
    What you might not know: Izzy’s grandmother Jane Whiteley (nee Drummond Hay) evented herself, including being placed in Badminton Horse Trials. Her great Aunt Anneli Drummond Hay won both Badminton and Burghley while Izzy’s showjumping mother represented Great Britain as a young rider.
    Her reaction to selection: “I’m delighted for all my owners, support team and sponsors who’ve backed me over the years and who have helped me get to this position. I’m really looking forward to September.”

    Oliver Townend


    Age: 32
    From: Ellesmere, Shropshire
    Horse: 11-year-old Fenyas Elegance (Ellie)
    Owner: PJ Hegarty
    Previous success: Oliver is a previous winner of both Badminton and Burghley Horse Trials and has been a regular on the senior eventing squad. Oliver only took over the ride on ‘Ellie’ from Irish eventer Aoife Clark in May this year. Ellie won Bramham CCI3* in 2014 and Blenheim CCI3* in 2013 with Aoife before claiming third place at Saumur CCI3* with Oliver in May this year, at their second event as a combination.
    What you might not know: aged 11 Oliver won a showjumping class at HOYS on his 14.2hh pony.
    His reaction to selection: “I am very pleased to have been selected especially being such a new partnership. I am very excited and very proud of her.”

    Francis Whittington

    EASY TARGET_Blenh14PN_36285

    Age: 37
    From: Crowborough, East Sussex
    Horse: 14-year-old Easy Target (Smokey)
    Owner: Catherine Witt
    Previous success: Francis has enjoyed years of success at the top level of eventing. Notable results with ‘Smokey’ last year include winning the CCI3* class at Blenheim Palace, second place in the British Open at Gatcombe and second place in the CIC3* at Barbury.
    What you might not know: Francis won individual gold and team silver at the Pony European Championships in Hasselt, Belgium in 1993.
    His reaction to selection: “It’s very exciting and it’s been a long time trying to get to this moment, I joked with Yogi when he told me not to tell anyone about my selection until the announcement had been made, I said I had been waiting for 20 years I can wait a few more hours!”

    Nicola Wilson

    ONE TWO MANY_Pau14pn_48945C

    Age: 38
    From: Northallerton, North Yorkshire
    Horse: 13-year-old One Two Many (Coco)
    Owner: Mary and Gerry Kemp and Janine Shewan
    Previous success: Nicola has been a key part of the senior eventing squad for the past six years thanks to her late, great partner, Opposition Buzz, claiming World, Olympic and European team medals. Blair Castle has been a successful event for the rider where she won the CIC3* class in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014 with CoCo. This combination were also eighth at Pau CCI4* in 2014 and seventh at Badminton this year.
    What you might not know: Nicola has a 2:1 degree in sport and business management from Manchester University.
    Her reaction to selection: “This is especially exciting after the delay to the beginning of our season due to me breaking my collar bone that subsequently needed plating. It is credit to my home support team who worked so hard to keep the horses in tip top shape and to my fantastic owners who remained supportive and positive through this time.”

    Holly Woodhead

    Holly Woodhead and DHI Lupison at Bramham 2015. Picture by Peter Nixon

    Age: 21
    From: Swindon, Wiltshire
    Horse: 11-year-old DHI Lupison (Luke)
    Owner: her father Ian and stepmother Heidi Woodhead
    Previous success: Holly has won medals at European young rider level on ‘Luke’. This year they stormed to victory in the CCI3* under 25 class at Bramham and were sixth in the CIC3* at Chatsworth.
    What you might not know: Holly’s sister, Amy is a grand prix dressage rider and stable jockey to Carl Hester.
    Their reaction to selection: “It’s crazy! I’m overwhelmed, it’s not sunk in yet and I don’t think it will until I’m there with all the seniors.”

     Flora HarrisFlora was unfortunately de-selected following a tricky time in Aachen

    Flora Harris and Bayano at Bramham 2015. Picture by Peter Nixon
    Age: 27
    From: Baydon, Wiltshire
    Horse: Nine-year-old Bayano (Barney)
    Owner: Her mother Caroline Harris and Rebecca Salt
    Previous success: Flora has ridden at four-star level and was second in the CCI3* at Blair Castle Horse Trials in 2014 riding Amazing VIII. ‘Barney’ won this year’s CCI3* at Bramham Horse Trials.
    What you might not know: Flora deferred starting an art and design degree after school to spend a year at trainer, Gill Watson’s yard. She never started the degree.

    Tom JacksonFlora’s replacement was forced to withdraw after a setback

    Burnham Market on 03 & 04.04.2015 - Archive No: TR 893 Age: 22
    From: Kent
    Horse: 12-year-old Waltham Fiddlers Find (Wesley)
    Owner: Rider and his parents, Ian and Sara Jackson
    Previous success: Tom was junior team gold medalist at the 2012 European Championships. He followed this up with team silver at the 2013 young rider European Championships and team bronze at the 2014 young rider European Championships all with his Blair ride, Wesley. Tom was the under 25 champion in 2014 at Bramham and was sixth at the event this year. Tom was listed as first reserve for the senior European Eventing Championships, but when Flora Harris was dropped from the squad, Tom was given the call-up
    What you might not know: Tom has produced Wesley from scratch since the horse was four-years-old. It is worth noting that Wesley has an exemplary jumping record, notching just one cross-country fault since 2010

    Dani EvansDani was forced to withdraw at the 11th hour at Blair when Smart Time’s routine blood test results showed he was under the weather

    Dani Evans - Smart Time

    Age: 23
    From: Bristol
    Horse: 11-year-old Smart Time (TJ)
    Owner: Luana Edge
    Previous success: Dani has enjoyed huge success at junior and young rider level and was part of the team gold medal winning young rider team at the 2011 championships which were held at Blair Castle. ‘TJ’ has only competed in one CCI3* competition so far, but he impressed coming 2nd at Bramham Horse Trials this year in the under 25 section.
    What you might not know: Dani spent a year working at the Billy Stud for William and Pippa Funnell in 2011.

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