Eyes on the future after an exceptional summer for British equestrian sport

  • All eyes are on the future as Britain reflects on a phenomenal summer of success by looking to the next goals.

    British riders won 19 senior Olympic, Paralympic and European medals in the space of two months this summer – with 17 combinations sharing in the success.

    There are five Brits in the eventing world top 10, as well as two each in the respective top 10s for showjumping, dressage and overall para dressage.

    On top of this, British event riders are the reigning champions of all five-star events in the northern hemisphere. They also hold the titles of every four-star (long and short) in Britain this year, with the exception of Barbury – won by Andrew Nicholson.

    “It’s been absolutely incredible,” British Equestrian performance director Dickie Waygood told H&H, adding that there is a combination of factors behind why Britain is so strong this year.

    He explained that fielding less experienced riders – as well as established riders on less experienced horses – at key events and European Championships in recent years, has helped build that “width and depth” to Britain’s strength, with the next Olympics and World Games on the horizon.

    “We haven’t been frightened of putting some younger combinations in and developing them for the future,” he said, adding building confidence has been a key part of Britain’s development.

    “The only way to get experience at that level is to keep going into the arena.”

    He added that this, combined with the fact that “everybody is judged on merit” makes people “hungry” as they believe they can do it.

    He cited the young British side winning the Challenge Cup at the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, plus the fact that three of the British horses on the European eventing squad are only 10 years old as two examples of building success with the future in mind.

    British Eventing chief executive Helen West told H&H the summer’s results have been “absolutely incredible” and the future of young horses and riders coming through the ranks is also very exciting.

    “I take my hat off to Dickie and Chris [Bartle]. The system they have in place is just phenomenal, it is so professional,” she said.

    She added that Britain has always been good, but it is “too much of a coincidence” not to look at the part the current support network for high performance is playing. That includes Dickie and Chris Bartle, plus the trust and expertise in the wider support team of owners, vets and each other.

    “It is very professional and I think the riders have confidence in that, and confidence breeds confidence,” she said.

    “No stone is left unturned. It is such a slick beast and it was an honour to be in Avenches to witness the British results. There was a real atmosphere, bond and camaraderie [between the squad]. There is so much strength and depth, I don’t think there has ever been a time we have been in such a strong position – and there is still more to come.”

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