The British Equestrian Federation has today, 30 July 2019, announced the UK Sport National Lottery funded para-equestrian dressage squad which will compete at the FEI Longines European Championships in Rotterdam, Holland (21–25 August 2019).
This year’s team includes three combinations who will be contesting their first senior championships, while Sophie Wells and C Fatal Attraction will be out to defend their Freestyle gold medal from the European Championships in 2017.
In alphabetical order, the selected squad has been named by British Dressage selectors as…
- Mari Durward-Akhurst (Grade I) with Glesni Owen’s Sky O’Hara
- Nicky Greenhill (Grade IV) with her own and Gary Greenhill’s Betty Boo
- Sophie Wells (Grade V) with Charlotte Hogg’s C Fatal Attraction
- Georgia Wilson (Grade II) with her own and Geoff and Julie Wilson’s Midnight
Performance Manager Georgina Sharples said “Many congratulations to all the selected combinations, their owners and support teams. It is wonderful to see three first-time championship athletes included in this selection – they’ll have the chance to experience a championship environment as part of the build-up to Tokyo 2020. Also representing Great Britain in her eleventh major championships, Paralympic, World and European multi-medallist Sophie Wells will bring a wealth of experience as will a highly committed and knowledgeable support team.”
Jason Brautigam, British Dressage Chief Executive, commented; “It’s fantastic to see three new names getting the call-up to the team this year, alongside the extensive Championship experience of Sophie Wells. With qualification for next year’s Paralympics already assured, it’s great to provide opportunities for new combinations to make their mark on the international stage. Competition for places has been fierce this year, with a number of riders in line for selection, which shows the fantastic depth we have in the programme just one year out from Tokyo. Congratulations to the chosen four and we look forward to cheering you on in Rotterdam.”
Nicky and Sophie have also been selected with direct reserve horses, Nicky with Gary Greenhill and her own King Edward I and Sophie with her own Diadeem.
Comments from selected athletes:
Mari Durward-Akhurst: “I am really excited to be competing at my first Senior Championships. It’s so nice to be recognised by the selectors after our hard work over the last couple of years – dreams do come true. Thank you to everyone who has supported me, my amazing home team and my trainer Rob Waine. I also have to thank my wonderful equine partner, Sky O’Hara, who continues to improve with age, and his owner, Glesni Owen, who has given me the opportunity to build such a special partnership with him. I hope that Sky and I will do everyone proud.”
Nicky Greenhill: “I was obviously incredibly shocked to receive the news, but now feel very proud and honoured to be able to represent my country.”
Sophie Wells: “It’s a massive honour to be selected to represent Team GBR again with C Fatal Attraction, and I’m also really pleased to have my pupil, Georgia Wilson, on the squad with me. This is an exciting time for British Dressage ahead of the Paralympic Games in Tokyo next year, with such a broad range of talented horses and riders for the selectors to call upon. I’d like to thank C Fatal Attraction’s owner, Charlotte Hogg, for her support and my home team for all their hard work – without them, this selection wouldn’t have been possible.”
Georgia Wilson: “I’m excited but nervous at the same time because this is my first major championships, but I’m really looking forward to it.”
Comments from owners of selected horses:
Charlotte Hogg (C Fatal Attraction): “I’m thrilled and extremely proud that Sophie and C Fatal Attraction have been picked for the squad. It’s a privilege to have been able to support Sophie and watch her develop such a great partnership with Jorge.”
Glesni Owen (Sky O’Hara): “Sky O’Hara, otherwise known as Sky, has been out on loan to Mari for a number of years competing at para-equestrian dressage competitions nationally and latterly in Europe. He can be cheeky at times but has a beautiful walk and really tries his very best for Mari when he’s competing. Unfortunately due to work commitments I am unable to attend the Europeans, but will be wishing this super pair all the very best.”
Comments from grooms of selected athletes:
Rob Waine (Mari Durward-Akhurst and Sky O’Hara): “Wow, wow, wow! To receive the news that Mari and Sky O’Hara have been selected for their first Senior Championship in Rotterdam is incredible. As her trainer we have been working hard together for the past three years, during which Mari and Sky have gone from strength to strength. We must take this moment to say a huge thank you to Sky’s owner Glesni for allowing this partnership to form and blossom – without the amazing support of owners we wouldn’t be able to partake in the sport that we love. I am extremely honoured and humbled to be travelling out to Rotterdam as part of Team GBR and I wish the team the best of luck.”
Lewis Coppin (Sophie Wells and C Fatal Attraction, and Georgia Wilson and Midnight): “It’s a great honour to be part of Team GBR. It’s an overwhelming feeling and quite indescribable – I’m really excited. You’re not just part of a team at a major championships like this, but of a whole family. Before the World Equestrian Games last year, I never dreamed I’d be representing my country and I’m so honoured to be a part of the team.”
Equestrian Team GBR is supported the UK Sport National Lottery funded World Class Programme. The British teams are very grateful for the support they receive from the British Equestrian Federation Fund and official partners Dodson & Horrell, Equi-Trek, Horseware, Musto, NAF and Point Two.