The Belgian eventing team has a new coach after the country’s equestrian federation (FRBSE) decided not to renew Mark Phillips’ contract at the end of 2014.
Olympic rider Marc Rigouts has taken over from Mark, and will be tasked with trying to help the team qualify for the 2016 Olympics.
The Belgian team finished in 10th place at WEG after two of their riders failed to complete to the cross-country phase.
The team will therefore have to try and gain their Olympic place at the European eventing championships at Blair this autumn (10-13 September). The top two teams, that have not already qualified, will head to Rio.
“After assessing the actions taken for WEG and after consultation with the riders of high performance sport in this Olympic discipline, the steering committee of the FRBSE decided to stop working with the current coach, Mark Phillips,” FRBSE said in a statement.
Marc rode for Belgium at the London Olympics and also coached the team at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics. The 56-year-old has been the Belgian national champion four times and also coached the Dutch team in 1993 and 1994.
“His many skills such as experience, technical knowledge, accessibility, availability, communication skills, sense of the horse and his affinity with the world of eventing in Belgium made him the ideal candidate,” the statement added.
Marc said that he was looking forward to “raising the bar” for Belgian eventing.
“I will try to implement the right tools to achieve an increasing level of performance, thanks to a modern management and training, ” he said.
It is not clear what Mark Phillips’ next role might be.
The H&H columnist has designed the cross-country course for a new $50,000 (£32952) compact eventing class being hosted in Florida this weekend (30-31 January).
He is also the course-designer for the four-star tracks at Burghley and Luhmühlen. Last October it was announced that he would design the CIC2* course at Rockingham Castle International Horse Trials (22-24 May).
Mark was previously coach for the US eventing team in the run-up to the London Olympics (pictured top).
H&H was unable to reach Mark for comment prior to publication.