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British Showjumping pin all their Olympic hopes on Rotterdam

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Should we be worried about the state of British Showjumping?

 

After winning team gold in London 2012 and individual gold in Rio 2016, it seems hard to believe that Team GB have not even qualified for Tokyo 2020. After a disappointing Nations Cup Series where Britain are at the bottom of their division which will mean they cannot qualify for the Nations Cup Final. Our final chance for Olympic qualification comes with the FEI Longines European Championships in Rotterdam, Holland, which take place from 19–25 August 2019.

 

Yet all is not lost, the Brits are famous for pulling it out the bag when it really matters. They have been here before and it was a similar “last chance saloon” story before Rio. Furthermore with two Olympic gold medallists, currently Britain’s highest FEI-ranked showjumpers on the list in Ben Maher and Scott Brash, supported by three talented girls, their chances are strong.

 

The selected squad has been named by British Showjumping selectors as:

  • Scott Brash MBE (33 years) from Peeblesshire and based in West Sussex with Lady Pauline Kirkham & Lady Pauline Harris’ Hello M’Lady (bay, mare, 13yo, Indoctro x Baloubet du Rouet).
  •  Amanda Derbyshire (30 years) from Leyland in Lancashire and based in the USA with Gochman Sport Horse LLC’s Luibanta BH (bay, mare, 11yo, Luidam x Abantos).
  • Ben Maher MBE (36 years) from Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshire with Poden Farms’ Explosion W (chestnut, gelding, 10yo, Chacco Blue x Baloubet Du Rouet).
  • Laura Renwick (44 years) from Maldon in Essex with Arabella Prior’s Dublin V (chestnut, gelding, 11yo, Vigaro x Calvados).
  • Holly Smith (30 years) from Wymeswold in Leicestershire with TJ Hall Ltd’s and her own Hearts Destiny (British Bred) (bay, gelding, 10yo, Heart Throb x Rabino).

 

Performance Manager Di Lampard said “The European Championships this year are absolutely crucial if we are to qualify for the Olympic Games at Tokyo next year. I have full faith that the selection panel have put together a very strong team who could not only secure a qualifying ticket for Tokyo but also medal in both the Team and Individual Finals. I would like to personally thank all the owners that have made their horses available and of course the riders who are as committed as I am to delivering for Great Britain. In addition I extend my thanks to the dedicated support team at the BEF and British Showjumping who also play a vital role”

 

British Showjumping Chief Executive Iain Graham commented “We go forward to Rotterdam with a strong team in whom I have full confidence. In Ben and Scott we have two London 2012 Team Gold medallists who have also held the top spot individually on the world ranking lists. Both Holly and Amanda have proven themselves as Championship Team riders and Laura Renwick has been having consistent success at top level. I would like to congratulate the entire team on their selection and also thank the owners who have generously made their horses available for the British campaign as we set our sights on Tokyo.”

 

According to Scott Brash, he has been saving his horse for this opportunity. “My plans for Hello M’Lady this year have been entirely based around preparing her for the Europeans, so that I knew she would be ready for these all-important championships from where we need to qualify for Tokyo 2020. I was delighted to receive the call-up for the team and would like to take this opportunity to thank my owners Lord and Lady Kirkham and Lord and Lady Harris for their ongoing support.”

 

Amanda Derbyshire who suffered a dramatic fall in the FEI Nations Cup at Hickstead is excited to be a mainstay of the team. She was best of the Brits at the World Equestrian Games in Tyron last year on Luibanta. “I couldn’t be any happier to be selected for what will be my second Championships. Obviously I wish I hadn’t had a fall recently but I feel confident that I and Luibanta will be going to the Championships in fighting form.”

 

Ben Maher will be bringing his Global Champions Tour Champion Explosion W. “Representing Great Britain at championship level is always an honour and I would like to thank the Moffitt family and Poden Farms for making their outstanding horse, Explosion W, available for Rotterdam. This is a crucial championships for us in terms of qualifying for Tokyo and I am delighted to be part of the team that has been entrusted to deliver that all-important Olympic ticket.”

 

The ever green Laura Renwick has made a number of Nations Cup appearances but this will be her first championship for Team GB. “I’m really excited and proud to have been selected to represent my country at not only my first European Championships but also one that is extremely important to Great Britain in terms of Olympic qualification. I would like to thank my owner Arabella Prior and her family who own Dublin V and of course my husband John for his ongoing support and belief in me.”

 

Holly Smith is another consistent performer with ice cool nerves and a seriously talented partner in Hearts Destiny. “I’m delighted and honoured to be representing Great Britain again on a Championship team. We have a serious task ahead of us in Rotterdam in respect of qualifying for Tokyo and I’m absolutely focused on giving it my best shot at making sure we do just that.”

2018 Cheltenham Festival - Gold Cup Day - Cheltenham Racecourse

OUTBREAK OF EQUINE FLU COULD CAUSE COMPLETE LOCKDOWN OF EQUESTRIAN SPORT

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The whole equine community looks on with trepidation as six racehorses horses have tested positive for equine influenza this week, all of whom were vaccinated. The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) ordered that all racing be cancelled until next Wednesday at the earliest. The BHA are working with the Animal Health Trust who have been testing thousands of horses from over 100 training yards that could have been exposed to the disease.

 

The outbreak was first discovered in leading trainer Donald McCain’s yard in Cheshire, where three horses testing positive for the disease on Wednesday 6th February. Then on Friday 8th, another three from the same yard also came back with positive results. McCain was quick to inform the authorities and has been praised for his professionalism. He had horses running at Ayr and Ludlow racecourses earlier that day, potentially exposing a number of other horses from both the UK and Ireland to the disease. A number of other big yards including Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls have had all their horses tested and quarantined.

 

Vaccination against equine influenza or equine flu is compulsory for all racehorses and horses used competitively for other any equestrian sport. What is most alarming is that all the horses who tested positive were vaccinated against the disease which might suggest that a new strain of flu is present. If it is not quickly contained, this could spread rapidly through the racehorse population and potentially affect the UK equine population as a whole. Both the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) and the FEI have been issuing statements on a daily basis.

 

“The concern is that equine influenza is highly contagious” explains vet, David Mathieson of the Donnington Veterinary practice, who look after a number of racing yards in the South of England. “It has a very short incubation period- as short as 24 hours. It is spread readily between horses and personnel from one horse to another. It can also be airborne.”

 

On Friday 8th February, the BEF issued a statement saying “We continue to urge owners to be vigilant and follow the recommended guidelines on how to detect and prevent the spread of this infectious disease. We also urge any owners with suspected cases to take immediate veterinary advice. If flu is confirmed by laboratory testing, they should contact their relevant member body. If your horse is currently vaccinated, but it has been longer than six months since their last vaccination, we recommend that you discuss a booster with your vet”

 

The symptoms of equine flu include high temperature, coughs, snotty nose, enlarged glands, swollen or sore eyes, depression, loss of appetite and swelling in the lower legs.  With modern veterinary treatment, is it rarely fatal but horses can take months to recover fully. The disease can take up to three days for symptoms to be visible, which means that the BHA will not be able to draw a conclusion from all the information until Sunday at the earliest.

 

For the racing fraternity, it could become a living nightmare. At least 23 fixtures will be cancelled by next Wednesday which will cost the industry millions. Added to this, we are just five and eight weeks off two the most prestigious racing festivals in the world- The Magners Cheltenham Festival (12-15thMarch) and the Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree (4-6thApril). Not only is The Cheltenham Festival the fourth largest attended sporting event in the UK, but some 1.5 million people also tune in to ITV racing for the signature race, The Gold Cup. Around 8.5 million watched the Grand National on ITV last year and it has a race attendance of over 140,000 people over the three day Aintree festival.