Ellen Whitaker has been drafted in to the Great Britain team heading to the Longines FEI Nations Cup final in Barcelona next week (3-6 October) to replace Scott Brash and Hello M’Lady.
Ellen joins three riders from the European Championships bronze medal-winning team — Ben Maher, Amanda Derbyshire (Luibanta BH) and Holly Smith (Hearts Destiny) — and Emily Moffitt, who jumped double clear in her five-star Nations Cup debut in Dublin last month riding Winning Good.
Ellen lines up with Norman Oley’s 10-year-old stallion Arena UK Winston.
“M’Lady has been built up this year and came back well for the championships but she just needs a bit of a break now,” Great Britain’s performance manager Di Lampard told H&H.
“Scott’s younger horses, like Jefferson, have done a few big shows such as Calgary and Dublin, so he thinks it’s best to give them a bit of time out. But that means he hasn’t got anything to bring to Barcelona.
“With such a big year next year [2020 Olympics], we think that’s the best thing to do — especially having achieved our main goal for this year.
“So instead we’re giving Ellen the opportunity as she’s in very good form at the moment. She’s been out competing with very good results, jumping double clear in the Nations Cup in Gijon, so I feel she’s up and running at the level. We really want to get a wider pool of horses.”
Ben has also decided to ride the up-and-coming Poden Farms-owned nine-year-old stallion F One USA rather than Jane Forbes Clark’s mare Concona.
The showjumper says her nine-year-old ride is one of the best horses she has ever had
Britain finished on a zero score in today’s Aga Khan to trounce their rivals and secure qualification for the Nations
“Again, looking at next year, we already know Concona is very capable at this level and Barcelona is a fantastic competition to give horses and riders experience – it’s just like a championship,” explained Di.
“So F One is stepping up and will hopefully prove a good one for next year. And the same with Emily Moffitt — going to Barcelona will give her a similar experience.
“There’s less pressure [with Olympic qualification earned at the Europeans] but they all know they need to perform well for next year.”
The GB team goes up against 17 other countries from around the world in this annual Spanish end-of-season decider. The new European champions Belgium beat France and Ireland to be crowned the victors in 2018, while Great Britain finished sixth of the eight teams in the “consolation” Challenge Cup.
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