Controversy surrounds search for US eventing chef d’equipe

  • The search for Mark Phillips’s replacement as the US chef d’equipe is proving controversial.

    Last Thursday (3 March), the search committee announced just two short-listed candidates, David O’Connor and Leslie Law, from the nine applicants.

    But riders and eventing fans have expressed disapproval of the process and the shortness of the short-list.

    The athletes committee will interview the pair, who will also answer questions at an open rider forum tomorrow (10 March). According to the US Equestrian Federation’s (USEF) managing director Sarah Ike, the athletes committee does not have to accept the search committee’s recommendations. So could riders at the forum dissuade the athletes committee from accepting the two currently selected?

    Rumours are circulating on blogs and forums that the short-list may yet be changed, due to the popularity of unsuccessful candidates. One applicant who didn’t make the short-list, Jim Wofford, led by a wide margin in unofficial public opinion polls on equestrian websites.

    Other riders, such as Boyd Martin and Jennie Brannigan, have expressed their disappointment on their blogs that Philip Dutton and Bobby Costello have not been selected for the second round, and the chance to present their vision to riders.

    It has also been intimated that USEF president David O’Connor and Leslie Law were selected to ensure that the former gets the job. One blogger pointed out it would be extraordinary to choose a British rider with no international coaching experience over an American who had just coached the Canadian team to win silver at World Equestrian Games.

    Philip Dutton told Chronicle of the Horse that he believed the process is flawed.

    “It was constantly made clear and bragged about that the riders would get to choose their next coach.Well, they’re only getting to choose between two, and there were nine applicants. So it’s not really a true representation of everybody there,” he said.

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