There was shock and disappointment in the showjumping world yesterday (Monday 10 August) when it was revealed that world number one Scott Brash would not be representing Great Britain at next week’s FEI European Showjumping Championships (19-23 August).
Joe Clee (Utamaro d’Ecaussines), Ben Maher (Diva II), Jessica Mendoza (Spirit T) and Michael Whitaker (Cassionato), with Guy Williams (Titus II) as travelling reserve, were named as the Brits heading to Aachen.
However, Scott, as the lynchpin of past championships, was a notable absentee.
But it has since emerged that Scott and his owners, Lord and Lady Harris and Lady Kirkham, decided to withdraw Scott’s potential ride Hello M’Lady from the selection process.
Team selector Di Lampard told H&H this news was “very disappointing”.
Scott had already made his top ride Hello Sanctos unavailable.
Last month Scott told H&H that it was not in Sanctos’s “best interests” to contest both the Europeans and the final leg of the Rolex Grand Slam in Calgary (9-13 September) — where the pair stand to win a €1million (£710,000) bonus.
He added: “Hello Sanctos has now competed in three championships and, unfortunately for everyone, is not getting any younger.”
The decision, he added, was to give the horse the “best chance of being able to compete at a second Olympics, if the opportunity arose”.
The Scottish rider said he was putting nine-year-old Hello M’Lady, who he rode in the Dublin Nations Cup, up for selection for the British Europeans team. But he has since said the horse is not ready.
“In addition to Hello Sanctos who is being aimed at the Rolex Grand Slam, regrettably Hello M’Lady, also ridden by Scott Brash, was not made available for selection for next week’s Europeans,” British Equestrian Federation performance director Dan Hughes told H&H.
“The decision was taken by Scott and his owners, Lady Kirkham and Lady Harris, as they felt the horse was still too inexperienced for the environment of the Aachen stadium.”
The Europeans are Britain’s final chance to qualify for Rio next summer.
To do so Team GBR must finish in the top three of non-qualified nations — but face tough competition. The Netherlands, France, Germany and Sweden have already qualified.
“Qualifying for Rio is at the forefront of our minds and we are absolutely committed to giving Great Britain the chance to defend the team gold medal which was won at London 2012. We move forward to Aachen as a strong united team,” said Di.
H&H spoke to several top riders who were not pleased with the decision to withdraw both Scott’s horses, thereby making the world’s number one showjumper ineligible for the team.
To hear what they have to say — plus reaction from owner Lord Harris — don’t miss Thursday’s issue of H&H, out 13 August.