Strong squad named for SJ Europeans

  • British team manager Derek Ricketts has today announced his squad of five riders representing Great Britain at the 2005 FeI European Championships in San Patrignano, Italy (21-24 July).

    Ellen Whitaker and William Funnell will be delighted to hear they have been selected to make their championship squad debut.

    Ellen Whitaker, 19, is one of the rising stars of British show jumping. She finished runner-up to her uncle John in last year’s Hickstead Derby, while a stunning Samsung Super League debut in May this year saw Whitaker and AK Locarno 62 finishing with one of the only two double clears in La Baule, France.

    Funnell will be riding the 2001 Horse & Hound Foxhunter champion Cortaflex Mondriaan whom he partnered in the winning British team at the Samsung Super League in Rome earlier this year.

    Nick Skelton (Arko III) and Michael Whitaker (Portofino 63), who both jumped double clears in Rome, have also been selected. Skelton has now won more than 1,500 classes. A potentially fatal neck injury forced him to retire in 2001, but he has made an amazing recovery. “At the time, I already knew Arko would be a fantastic horse,” says Skelton who went on to ride him at the Athens Olympics last year.

    Michael’s elder brother, John completes the list. John Whitaker has been enjoying a run of success recently with the stallion Exploit Du Roulard, winning the Lisbon grand prix and finishing third at Rotterdam last week.

    British number one Robert Smith was unable to be considered for the European Championship team because of an injury to his top ride Mr Springfield.

    The combination of two talented newcomers with the “old guard” of John Whitaker, Michael Whitaker and Nick Skelton, who between them have won 29 European medals, must surely put the British team in strong contention for the European title.

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