There are just two weeks to go until the European Eventing elite converge on Blair for the Longines FEI European Eventing Championships and the excitement is mounting as various National Federations reveal more details of their squads.
Great Britain as host nation has the advantage of being able to name a 12 strong squad, double that of other nations, allowing team selectors to give up-and-coming combinations senior championship experience, whilst still fielding their strongest riders for the team. This will prove especially valuable ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio next year.
Although the final team members are yet to be announced and changes can still be made, the current GBR squad is, in alphabetical order:
- Laura Collett – Grand Manoeuvre
- Dani Evans – Smart Time
- William Fox-Pitt – Bay My Hero
- Pippa Funnell – Sandman 7
- Tom Jackson – Waltham Fiddlers Find
- Kitty King – Persimmon
- Gemma Tattersall – Arctic Soul
- Izzy Taylor – KBIS Briarlands Matilda
- Oliver Townend – Fenyas Elegance
- Francis Whittington – Easy Target
- Nicola Wilson – One Two Many
- Holly Woodhead – DHI Lupison
Izzy was previously due to ride Allercombe Ellie but the mare was withdrawn after failing the vet inspection at Aachen. Flora Harris also suffered a very disappointing Aachen with Bayano performing well below par picking up several stops across country. Although sound and happy further investigation is taking place to try and identify Bayano’s sudden lack of form and they have been replaced by first reserve 22 year old Tom Jackson.It is far from just about the Brits though, with fifteen other nations entered to compete, with twelve of them expecting to field a team and several fielding the maximum 6 riders. Most are yet to name their final squads but the biggest contender for the European title is unarguably reining champion Germany which fields a squad which bears a strong resemblance to that which won the Gold in Malmö 2 years ago. The squad is spearheaded by the reigning European and Olympic champion Michael Jung and they are more than ably supported by reining World champion Sandra Auffarth in addition to Ingrid Klimke, Dirk Schrade, Bettina Hoy and Peter Thomsen. Sweden, Ireland, Holland, Italy and France will also be vying for the medals with several having both team and individual chances alike. Germany, Great Britain, Ireland and Holland are already qualified for Rio via WEG, but with this being the final chance for nations to qualify a team through standard routes and with two team qualification tickets up for grabs, there will be much more to these championships than just the three medal winning teams. France 2013 bronze medallists will have a point to prove after their disqualification from WEG, which also resulted in them losing their Rio qualification, and Sweden and Italy will be snapping at their heels amongst others for a golden team ticket. If teams do not pick up qualification at Blair their only hope is picking up enough individual tickets to form a team, which Australia famously did for London 2012.
Aside from the main eventing there are a multitude of supporting events including the Kent & Masters British Eventing Northern Arena Eventing finals at BE90 and BE100 level, which will see the winning riders in each section take home a Kent & Masters saddle. BS Showjumping from 90cm up to 1m40, showing classes and Pony Club mounted games all feature throughout the week as well, meaning spectators will be spoilt for choice.
For more information on buying tickets and attending the event ensure you visit the website www.blair2015.com
Our Blair FEI European Championships coverage is sponsored by Horseware’s Sportzvibe, our thanks to them for this support.