Mark Phillips: It’s time for change *H&H VIP*

  • Although 2016 was an Olympic year, we lacked standout moments on the home scene. Michael Jung’s Rolex Grand Slam and his second Olympic title were the highlights — it’s just a pity he isn’t British!

    Many nations have changes for next year. Chris Bartle is the favourite to take over from Yogi Breisner as British performance manager. Meanwhile Eric Duvander and Clayton Fredericks are leaving the New Zealanders and Canadians.

    In the new Team GBR, there must be closer collaboration between British Eventing and the World Class programmes. We need co-ordinated coaching so that the transition from ponies to juniors and young riders and beyond is seamless. At present we have too many coaches saying too many different things, and then we wonder why we don’t see more riders coming through to top-end success.

    I’d like to see a return to squads at every level through the winter whereby the young train with their own coaches, but under the eye of the national coaches. When any coach works with a combination for a long time, it’s easy to accept that things can’t change, but often a respected national coach with a new set of eyes and no preconceived ideas finds it easier to push the boundaries.

    It would also be good to see more help given to people leaving young riders. While it’s great that the Nations Cup squad gives experience, it needs more support for riders at home rather than just at events.

    We also need more continuity so that talented people aren’t instantly dropped every time they hit a rough patch. Above all, British riders have to get back to winning and getting into the top 10 or even 20 at Badminton and Burghley. If I were an owner, with a choice of 16 overseas riders and four Brits in the top 20, statistically I’d have a better chance of finding a rider that could suit my horse in the 16.

    Those lucky enough to wear a World Class shirt mustn’t think they have arrived. The shirt must be simply the start of a more intensive look at how to improve .

    Thumbs up to ERM

    This year marked the start of the Event Rider Masters (ERM). There are so many good things about it — I hope it becomes a commercial success in 2017. The team are sussing out venues — Wiesbaden in Germany and Jardy in France are likely hosts next year.

    The learning curve for ERM is still steep. It undoubtedly fitted better into the CIC events than those running a CCI. In that vein, hopefully Barbury Castle, under new ownership, will remain in the series.

    How clear are our rules?

    We are so lucky with our volunteers in Britain, but I had an interesting experience earlier this month. A BE90 horse came up the hill, got three strides from a fence and napped. I spoke to some experienced fence judges. One said it was a 20, another that they have to be more lenient with the BE80(T) and BE90 pairs. Another said it was a clear because the rider did not present to the fence — but when asked if the disobedience would have happened if the fence had not been there, the answer was no. We think the rules are clear, but are they?

    A new era

    We now look forward to Tokyo 2020, plus we will know this week where we are headed for the 2018 World Equestrian Games. Let’s hope it can be the dawning of a new era as we Brits dream of that elusive Olympic team gold.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 27 October 2016