The British Show Jumping Association’s (BSJA) decision to appoint three additional selectors to assist in choosing British teams for top-level competitions has been branded “corrupt” and “biased” by some riders and owners.
John Whitaker, Steven Smith and Duncan Inglis have been appointed with immediate effect to help team manager Derek Ricketts chose riders for 2009 Nations Cup events, five star Nations Cup competitions and the Alltech FEI European Championships.
Last year team selection was Mr Ricketts’ choice alone.
One top-level rider who did not wish to be named, told H&H: “I think the whole thing stinks. It’s corrupt. An already small gap to get in has been made even narrower. If you are competing at top-level [yourself] or training top-level riders, you can’t be impartial.”
Another told H&H: “If you are stuck with a choice between a rider who is unconnected to you and one who is close to you, how can you be unbiased?”
Owners, too, are concerned. One told H&H: “It may not be so bad for people with established top horses — misinformed decisions will stand out and be questioned. But I have up-and-coming horses — who is going to stand up for me if a decision appears to be unfair?”
But team manager Derek Ricketts believes having “three extra pairs of eyes” will be of great benefit.
“If there is a split decision over who will be going on a team, my choice will have the sway and if there is a vested interest with a selector and a horse or rider, that selector will not be able to have a say in the decision.”
And Tim Stockdale, who is a candidate for major team selection, supported the move, saying: “I am more than happy with the whole thing. There is nobody in this sport without an interest in someone — everyone has a connection with one rider or another.”
The three new selectors have numerous connections to riders hoping to be selected for British teams.
A BSJA spokesman told H&H that the three names had received unanimous support from riders’ representatives on the international committee.
For this article in full, see the current issue of Horse & Hound (5 February, ’09)