There will be no British showjumping team at the 2017 European Championships (22-27 August), as the team focus is instead on the Nations Cup series.
Just two individuals, Michael Whitaker on his wife Melissa’s Viking and William Whitaker on Ludwig Criel’s Utamaro D’Ecaussines, will represent Britain in Gothenburg, a decision the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) admits is “unusual”.
BEF equestrian performance director Gordon Burton said: “Our selectors have chosen to send two individuals to the FEI Longines European Championships and focus our team activity on the Nations Cup series, to best achieve our goals for both 2017 and WEG 2018.
This decision has been made taking into account both available equine talent and our longer-term performance objectives.
“The selectors went through a robust process, based on performance data and discussions with athletes and owners from the nominated entries list. The selectors concluded that in this transitional period for showjumping, it is in the best longer-term interests of our less experienced equine athletes to take what we know is an unusual approach.
“Equine form is dynamic and we want to balance our championship and Nations Cup team delivery to best effect, while managing the exciting equine talent we have for the future.”
British Showjumping (BS) performance manager Di Lampard said it had not been an easy decision to make.
“We would be kidding ourselves to say that we have been satisfied with our Nations Cup team performances this year,” she added. “Like many sports, showjumping has changed massively in the past two years and we need to balance the individual objectives of riders alongside those of our national championship campaigns, especially in the first year of an Olympic cycle, which is always more of a transitional period.
“We’re starting to see some new and exciting combinations, alongside the more established riders who continue to support GB’s international campaign, which will give us greater strength and depth in the build-up to Tokyo.”
BS chief executive Iain Graham said BS “fully respects and supports the decision made by the selectors”.
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He added: “We know that the decision wasn’t made lightly and understand that in-depth conversations were had with all stakeholders. Our focus is now on supporting the two senior riders heading out to the championships along with our youth riders and we wish them the very best of luck.”
Don’t miss next week’s H&H magazine (out 17 August) for a full preview of the European Championships.