William Funnell: ‘Who will lead the British team when Di Lampard steps down?’


  • WITH the recent appointment of a new support team to assist Great Britain’s showjumping performance manager Di Lampard, we welcome Belgian Olympian and experienced chef d’equipe Stanny van Paesschen as a new “technical expert” – providing support to Di around team selection and preparation as well as helping the riders.

    Youth team manager Tony Newbery has also been brought in to the position of EEF (European Equestrian Federation, previously Europe’s division two) Nations Cup  chef d’equipe.

    But bearing in mind that Di has revealed that she will be stepping down from her role after the Paris Olympics in 2024, it’s a shame there seems to be no natural progression in place for people wanting to come in and take the role.

    Of course, Di is totally committed until Paris and would obviously like some team medals under her belt before she goes. But despite a few people of my generation being suitable for the position, there are very few who have the vital coaching qualifications required for the job.

    The problem is that many showjumpers – myself included – have never regarded getting these coaching badges as a way of making us better trainers. But I can understand their importance for the chef d’equipe’s role as they cover everything from first aid to child protection. Even footballers need them – they’re vital for any sporting management role.

    However, taking the qualification is time consuming and I expect that’s the reason why nobody younger has come through as a natural progressor to Di.

    Paris is fast approaching, so hopefully her imminent departure will signal to anyone who would like to be considered for Di’s job, or want to be involved in the sport in the future, to be prepared to get these qualifications now.

    Key team decisions

    TONY does a very good job for our sport, and Stanny is at all the big shows and knows what is required to be a five-star team rider, so it will be a big plus for Di to have someone to bounce ideas off and check and challenge her selection decisions. But for the first time, teams will be solely Di’s choice – rather than that of three selectors with sometimes differing opinions.

    Whether anyone agreed or not with the team that went to Tokyo, it wasn’t Di’s first choice. If I was in the chef d’equipe role, I’d want to be in a position to go down on my sword if the teams weren’t performing up to scratch and that’s the position Di will stand in now. No pressure then! But I’m sure it’s something she’ll relish.

    Great Britain’s first “counting” Nations Cup to stay in the top league in Europe takes place in St Gallen in May, followed by Rotterdam, Falsterbo and Hickstead, then there’s the World Championships and Olympic qualification to get in the bag, so it’s going to be a tough year.

    The chef d’equipe job gets harder still with the Global Champions Tour sapping the top horses and riders. But it’s looking great for the future, with young riders Jack Whitaker and Harry Charles doing so well at the World Cup Final and Joe Stockdale competing very successfully in Italy recently.

    Busy, busy…

    SPRING is in the air and our four-year-olds at The Billy Stud are being prepared for the first of our five auctions this year on 17 May, just after Royal Windsor. Meanwhile, my wife Pippa is competing at Kentucky this week, followed by Badminton. It’s going to be a busy month, but isn’t it great to have all these big events to look forward to once again?

    • This exclusive column is also available to read in full in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 28 April

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