British showjumping team for European Championships named

  • The British team for the FEI European Showjumping Championships has been revealed — and it doesn’t include world number one rider Scott Brash.

    Joe Clee, Ben Maher, Jessica Mendoza and Michael Whitaker will all head to Aachen next week (19-23 August) to represent Team GBR.

    The four riders were in the team that won the Rotterdam Nations Cup earlier this year.

    However, the pressure is on, as the Europeans is the final chance for Britain to qualify for Rio next summer.

    To do so they must finish in the top three of non-qualified nations at Aachen. This also includes Ireland, who recently won the Dublin Nations Cup (7 August) and Belgium, who took the Hickstead leg (31 May).

    The Netherlands, France, Germany and Sweden have already qualified.

    As current Olympic and European champions, the British team will be also hoping to retain its title.

    “We are all entirely focused on the job we have ahead of us,” said chef d’equipe Di Lampard.

    “Qualifying for Rio is at the forefront of our minds and we are absolutely committed to giving Great Britain the chance to defend the team gold title won at London 2012. We move forward to Aachen as a strong united team and are looking forward to the championships and all it brings”.

    Joe Clee, who is based in Belgium, will be taking part with Utamaro d’Ecaussines. The pair were part of the World Equestrian Games (WEG) squad last year.

    Ben Maher, who was instrumental on the 2013 Europeans team, helping Britain to gold and securing individual silver, will partner Diva II.

    Ben said: “Diva has been a great horse to me over the past 12 months and has proved herself to be a good team horse.

    “Hopefully we can play a strong part in qualifying Great Britain for the Olympics.

    “Regarding the team, it’s a previous winning combination that has been selected consisting of good horses and we are all looking forward to repeating the form we had together in Rotterdam.”

    Nineteen-year-old Jessica Mendoza makes her senior championship debut with Spirit T. The pair put in a gutsy performance in the King George V Cup at Hickstead last month, securing her spot on the team.

    Jessica added: “It’s amazing. Spirit’s jumped absolutely brilliantly this summer and deserves it.

    “It was never in my plan at the beginning of the year, but she kind of made it the plan as she just kept getting better and better each time we stepped up a level.”

    Team GBR stalwart, Michael Whitaker who was also on the gold medal-winning Europeans 2013 team will ride Cassionato.

    Travelling reserve is Guy Williams and Titus II.

    Non-travelling reserves are Robert Whitaker and Catwalk IV and William Whitaker and Fandango.

    All four selected athletes contest the team competition, with the three best scores counting. The top 25 combinations will be invited to contest the grand prix from which the individual medals are decided.

    Last month Scott told H&H Hello Sanctos was not jumping, should he be selected for the team, but that he was putting nine-year-olds Hello M’Lady and Hello Forever forward.

    It was not in Sanctos’s “best interests” to contest both the Europeans and the final leg of the Rolex Grand Slam in Calgary (9-13 September) — where the pair stand to win a €1million bonus.

    However, Hello M’Lady didn’t compete in the King George V Cup at Hickstead as planned and picked up four faults during the Dublin leg of the Nations Cup (7 August).

    Ben Maher’s top ride, 13-year-old mare Cella was also ruled out as she had picked up a “minor injury” while John Whitaker also ruled himself and Argento out of contention saying the horse wouldn’t be suited to the big, grass arena at Aachen.

    For a full preview of next week’s FEI European Championships at Aachen, plus guest comment from Graham Fletcher, don’t miss this week’s issue of H&H, out Thursday (13 August).

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