A non-equestrian is to lead the British Eventing (BE) senior selection panel, which also includes a former four-star rider – who has not ruled herself out of possible future selection.
In a first for the sport, and an “exciting development in the selection process”, Dan Hunt, currently performance director for British Ski and Snowboard, will chair the panel.
Mr Hunt has 13 years’ experience in performance sport, having worked for British Cycling and the Premier League, and his role will be to ensure the correct process is followed, while not having a vote on the selected riders.
Also on the panel will be three new appointments: Gillian Watson, Jeanette Brakewell and Sarah Bullen, as well as BE international director Nigel Taylor.
Jeanette, who was on the silver medal-winning teams at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, said she is “very excited” about her new role, having already “seen things from the riders’ point of view”.
“I’m looking forward to getting cracking and hopefully at the end of the day, the team will pick itself from good results and we’ll have a good team for the European Championships,” she told H&H.
“Dan’s got massive experience in other sports so it’ll be really good if there’s any advice required, and he’ll make sure it’s all done correctly.”
And her role does not mean she has ruled herself out of future selection.
“I want to be on teams again and should it be the situation, that I have a horse good enough, I’ll have to stand down,” she said. “At the moment, I’m probably not in contention for a team this year. I’d love to have a couple of horses at that level but I can’t afford to buy a four-star horse and I wouldn’t take one from another rider.
“It’s definitely still my aim – I’m certainly not hanging my boots up yet.”
Former Burghley winner Gill has spent three decades with British junior and young rider teams, who collected 96 medals during her time at the helm, while Mr Taylor has also represented Britain at World and European Championships and is an accredited coach, as well as his BE director role. Sarah will bring her experience of riding at four-star level and coaching riders competing at championship level.
BE chief executive David Holmes said: “It is wonderful to see such depth of experience and knowledge on the senior selection panel as we head into the next championship cycle. We are also delighted to welcome Dan as independent chair and I am sure his skills working across the variety of high performance sport will bring a fascinating perspective to eventing.
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“By advertising for team selectors, three of which are now on the panel, we work towards ensuring we have a selection system that is as open and transparent as possible. This is also supported by the addition of Dan’s position that will be non-voting and to ensure the correct process for selection is followed.
“We have seen this structure used successfully in several other Olympic sports, such as British Triathlon, and look forward to our selectors working with our the whole team, including athletes, owners, coaches, staff and the World Class programme over the coming months and years.”