British showjumping team revealed for Rio Olympics

  • The British showjumping team for the Rio Olympics has been announced today (5 July).

    An experienced, all-male quartet of Nick Skelton, Michael and John Whitaker and Ben Maher will be gunning for gold in Rio in just five weeks time. While the travelling reserve combination is Jessica Mendoza (Spirit T).

    It may be a team that lacks some youth, but it is one that certainly doesn’t lack plenty of championship experience — with the trio of Nick, Michael and John having ridden on teams together over the past decades. Rio will be Ben’s third Olympic Games and the 33-year-old is proven when riding under pressure.

    For Nick Skelton’s Big Star, it is an almighty comeback from injury for the 13-year-old stallion. The pair is the only team members to have also been a part of the gold medal-winning British team at London 2012.

    They recently produced one of just eight double clears when representing Great Britain at the Nations Cup in La Baule (12-15 May). It was their first major show since finishing third the Global Champions Tour grand prix of Estoril in 2014.

    Michael Whitaker and the enigmatic stallion Cassionato were part of the British team at last summer’s European Championships, where the team’s fourth place secured the Brits an Olympic qualification. They were also part of the recent winning Nations Cup team in Rome.

    Brother John will also be heading to Rio with the talented, yet inexperienced, mare Ornellaia. The daughter of For Pleasure has been on great form of late and undeniably has the best man in the plate for her debut Olympic Games.

    Ben Maher only started riding his Olympic mount Tic Tac in January this year, but they seem to have formed a solid partnership already and have performed well during their Nations Cup appearances this year.

    Continued below…

    Find out who made the other British Olympic equestrian teams:

    The youngest of the British squad, 20-year-old Jessica Mendoza has been named as travelling reserve with her European Championships mount Spirit T.

    It will no doubt be a big disappointment for Joe Clee, who has missed out on a team place with Utamaro D’Ecaussines. The 12-year-old stallion was a consistent horse for team GBR at the European Championships in Aachen, however an off-par performance at the Nations Cup in Rotterdam seem to have hampered their chances of making the Rio team.

    The four combinations on the Olympic showjumping team:

    • Nick Skelton and the 13-year-old stallion Big Star
    • Ben Maher and the 13-year-old stallion Tic Tac
    • Michael Whitaker and the 11-year-old stallion Cassionato
    • John Whitaker and the 11-year-old mare Ornellaia


    • Jessica Mendoza and the 15-year-old mare Spirit T

    Don’t miss H&H’s Olympic preview issue (28 July) or our form guide (4 August), with details of every runner and rider, plus score cards to fill in. Our Rio eventing report is published on 12 August — the magazine will come out on Friday rather than Thursday that week to tie in with Olympic competition schedules.

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