British showjumpers skip Aachen to focus on WEG [H&H VIP]

  • Britain will not be fielding a showjumping team at the Nations Cup in Aachen (17 July) due to being “short of top level horse power”, according to team manager Rob Hoekstra.

    But British riders told H&H they are “disappointed” by this news.

    Rob Hoekstra said it was a “shame” that Britain would not be represented, but that Aachen was not a “priority”.

    “Of course it’s something we’ve considered, but the main aim this year is the World Championships and qualifying for Rio,” Rob added.

    “Our other priority is the FEI Nations Cup series — and as Aachen is no longer a part of the series then we will not be jumping as a team.”

    Aachen was a notable absentee when the 2014 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup showjumping calendar was unveiled at the start of the year.

    The German venue, which first hosted a Nations Cup in 1929, still hosts its own Nations Cup event, but not as part of the official FEI series.

    At the time, FEI jumping committee chairman John Madden said Aachen was “unable to meet the [FEI’s] commercial requirements”. And this has affected Britain’s plans.

    “We are extremely short of championship horses and with the amount of shows they are under enough pressure as it is without having to jump a team round and a grand prix class at this show,” said Rob. “We have to make the decision somewhere.”

    World numbers one and two Scott Brash and Ben Maher will be jumping as individuals in the grand prix.

    However, the lack of a team means that Britain’s two past Aachen grand prix winners — Nick Skelton (2013) and Michael Whitaker (2012) — will miss out on the chance to defend their titles.

    Michael Whitaker told H&H that he and several others were all keen to be on the team.

    The whole thing is very disappointing — we could have had five British riders out there competing for some of the biggest prize-money in the world,” added Michael.

    “I suggested to Rob that we enter a team, but I think he’d already decided.”

    This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (10 July, 2014)