Injury forces change to British eventing team for Rio Olympics

  • Izzy Taylor’s ride Allercombe Ellie has been withdrawn from the British eventing team for the Rio Olympics as she has incurred a slight injury in training.

    Pippa Funnell, who was selected as travelling reserve on Billy The Biz, will now run as a member of the team.

    Tina Cook has been named as the new travelling reserve with Elisabeth Murdoch’s Billy The Red.

    Izzy said: “I’m really gutted and sorry for the owners and my support team. I wish Pip and all the team the best of luck out in Rio.”

    This is the third time in as many years that Izzy and owners Frances Carter and Susan Holroyd have suffered disappointment with Ellie, as she was also selected for the 2014 World Equestrian Games and the 2015 Blair European Championships, but was pulled out both times because of injuries.

    The British-bred Billy The Biz becomes the first horse bred by the Billy Stud — the Funnells’ enterprise with Donal Barnwell — to make it to an Olympics. This will be Pippa’s third Games — she won team silver at Sydney in 2000 riding Supreme Rock and team silver plus individual bronze with Primmore’s Pride in Athens four years later.

    Pippa commented: “Firstly I’m absolutely devastated for Izzy, I know how much work it takes for everyone involved to get the horse to this level. From a personal point of view, I just feel so very privileged and honoured to be part of the team and I’m just delighted for all my connections who have helped me to get to this stage.

    “It’s our first home-bred horse to be going to a Games, and whilst that’s so special for us all, it’s so tragic that Carol [Toliver, Billy The Biz’s owner, who died recently] isn’t with us to share this moment as I know she would have been so very proud. We’ll be going there to give it our absolute all.”

    New travelling reserve Tina Cook was a double bronze medallist on her Olympic debut in 2008 in Hong Kong with Miners Frolic — she was actually the reserve for that team initially. Four years later she contributed to team silver in London with the same horse.

    Tina and Pippa finished second and third in the CIC3* at Bramham in June. Both had strong performances in the dressage and showjumping at Barbury Castle recently, but withdrew Billy The Red and Billy The Biz to save them in case they were needed for Rio.

    Equestrian team leader Dan Hughes said: “We are extremely disappointed for Izzy and her whole support team, including the horse’s owners Susan and Frances. Whilst Rio was going to be Izzy’s first Olympics, as one of the most talented British riders in the world, I am confident that it will not be her last opportunity to represent Great Britain on the world stage. In Pippa Funnell we have an extremely strong replacement, and we are confident this team has every chance of achieving medal success in Rio.”

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