The British Show Jumping Association yesterday announced a short-list of 13 riders who could be selected to ride as individuals at the 2004 Olympics, although Britain has failed to qualify to compete as a team in Athens.
The list includes three members of the Whitaker family, Nick Skelton who has made a superb comeback to the sport after breaking his neck in a fall in September 2000, as well as William Funnell and Tim Stockdale. Di Lampard is the only woman on the list and Robert Smith and Michael Whitaker are the only riders short-listed with two horses.
At the European Show Jumping Championships in Donaueschingen in August, the last chance to qualify show jumping teams for the Olympics, Switzerland and Italy took the qualifying places to the disappointment of the British team and their fans. It is not yet confirmed that any British show jumpers will be competing in Athens, but Derek Ricketts, team manager, is fairly confident that two individuals will qualify.
Derek says: “The two riders who are highest on the FEI Rankings at the end of May 2004 and who are from a country which is not already qualified will earn two individual places for their country. The country then selects which two riders will take up those places.
“If the places were allocated now Robert Smith and Michael Whitaker would earn those qualifying places for Britain. Assuming we get the qualifying places it would be hard not to select the riders who earn them.
“The Olympics tickets are not automatically allocated to the riders who earn them though, as riders need to have three or four top horses to be high up that list. For example, I rate Arko very highly but Nick does not have enough top horses to appear high up the rankings list.”
The Athens Olympics takes place 22-27 August and entries have to be in by the middle of July, so the final selection is likely to take place by the end of June. The selection process for the short-listed riders will be based on Nations Cup performances.
“It’s a great shame we didn’t qualify a team for the Olympics,” says Derek. “But I am quite confident at the moment that we will qualify two individuals and it is a strong short-list.”
The riders and horses on the short-list are as follows:
Mark Armstrong with Graf Gold (Mr and Mrs A Brown)
Paul Barker with Blue Chip Quinton (Mrs L V Barker/Blue Chip Feed)
Richard Davenport with Luc (Mr M Dawes)
Andrew Davies with Limbo V (Miss M J Hall)
William Funnell with Cortaflex Mondriaan (Mrs J Slade/Equine America)
Di Lampard with Abbervail Dream (Mr R Verburgt)
Nick Skelton with Arko III (Mr J and Miss L Hales)
Robert Smith with Mr Sprinfield (Mr R Smith) and Marius Claudius (Mrs D and Miss P Cornish)
Scott Smith with Cabri d’Ell (Mr M J Dawson)
Tim Stockdale with Fresh Direct Parcival (Mr C E M Garratt/Fresh Direct)
John Whitaker with Lord Z (Mrs C Whitaker/Dr P Bauer)
Michael Whitaker with Fleur 195 (Mr M Whitaker) and Abrisca (Miss N Gillespie)
Robert Whitaker with Qualite (Mrs C Whitaker/Pro Horse International)