Nottingham’s Michael Whitaker has been selected to represent Great Britain at the forthcoming Madrid European Championships (13-18 September).
One of Britain’s all-time showjumping greats, Whitaker, 51, has competed in four Olympic Games and 10 European Championships, winning many medals along the way.
Whitaker will partner Beatrice Mertens’ 11-year-old GIG Amai II with whom he has enjoyed considerable success during the last 12 months. In May, the pair finished second in the Euro200, 000 Grand Prix in Rome, Italy, while earlier this month they made up part of Britain’s Nations Cup team that triumphed in Dublin.
Whitaker said: “I’m very happy to be picked for the European squad and hope we do well at the Championships”.
Four of the five squad members have so far been confirmed. Joining Whitaker will be Robert Smith (Talan), Nick Skelton (Carlo) and Scott Brash (Intertoy Z). The final selected combination will be announced after the Rotterdam CSIO5* show (25-28 August).
Performance manager Rob Hoekstra said: “We had a great result in Dublin winning the Aga Khan trophy in the Nations Cup competition; this has secured our place in the FEI Nations Cup league for 2012. All the riders have worked hard through the Nations Cup series to gain the necessary results and we are so very grateful for the support of the owners. The Europeans mark another important competition on the road to London 2012.” The final date for the announcement of the complete Squad will be delayed until immediately after Rotterdam CSIO5*. Great Britain will have five rider/horse combinations in Madrid; the four that will compete for the Team and Individual medals will be announced at the latest after the First Horse Inspection on 13 September 2011.
Will Connell (World Class Performance Director) commented; “This is a sensible decision by the Selectors as it gives them the opportunity to see some partnerships compete in Rotterdam and thus ensure that they are taking combinations that are “in form”. Madrid will be very tough – I believe there are eight Nations going there with realistic Team medal hopes and a number of these will also be seeking to gain Olympic Team Quota place qualification…..it is going to be a cracker.”
The selected riders are supported by the World Class Programme, which is generously supported by Lottery and Exchequer funding via UK Sport. The Programme incorporates both the Development and Performance Programmes and the Equine Pathway, and works closely with the three BEF Olympic Member Bodies, British Dressage, British Eventing and British Showjumping.
All the news and behind the scenes views in the run up to and during the European Championships can be found on both the British Showjumping and Equestrian Team GBR’s websites nearer the time. Visit www.britishshowjumping.co.uk and www.equestrianteamgbr.co.uk for more details
The FEI European Jumping Championships take place in Madrid between the 13 – 18th September. For further information, competition timetable and ticket options please visit www.europeanjumping2011.com