|All The Aussies Are Over Here!|
It seems to have been a quirky year for eventing. A number of top horses are out with injury, we’ve had a southern hemisphere invasion, Badminton ran over Easter weekend, a few Germans ran their Badminton mounts again at Luhmühlen in June, and now it’s back to Luhmühlen for the HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships, which doesn’t see to have got as much air time as it usually does.
Perhaps I’ve just been spending too much time in the States (which is about to increase!), and have missed all this, but I think it’s more likely being over shadowed by talk of the Olympics and all the Antipodeans who have been rifling through their ancestry to satisfy visa conditions or residency status, and are pitching up in the UK for pre-Olympic prep, or just to get caught up in the general euphoria that’s erupting here at the moment. Whether it’s Hamish on his English adventure or the entire Kiwi squad, there are Antipodeans everywhere!
Anyway, back to the European Championships…. From the freshly updated list of entries (see below), hot off the press this morning, the first thing that strikes you is the number of new names on the list. Team GBR has only one new name on the list, Laura Collett, who is no stranger to the championship podium, with a medal haul of what seems like everything from tiddly-winks right up to Young Rider Europeans, having been hung round her neck.
|Talking GBR Team Tactics?|
The Brits have been winning the Europeans since the stone age, and whilst you might say, ‘Well, where’s Pippa Funnell or Tina Cook, or…., or…..”, the Brits are still fielding a team with rock solid 4 star & championship form, so must still hold sway as the bookie’s favourite. In the game of fantasy eventing, I think I would have played the long game, played it safe, and left Opposition Buzz and/or Jakata in the bag ready to peak for next year’s Olympics. It’s a home games and we really must win, mustn’t we?
|No Europeans For Pippa|
I think instead, in my fantasy league, I would have put Francis Whittington up. He rides cross country like he’s Sunday hacking, has a couple of fabulous horses (Easy Target & Sir Percival), and is on form this year with solid results over Mark Phillips designed courses (Barbury & Gatcombe). Still playing the long game, my fantasy Team GBR still has plenty of emerging talent. The emerging list is truly endless, and I’d probably get RSI trying to mention them all here, but take a look at the Burghley entry list and you’ll get the idea!
The entries for the Europeans may have plenty of new names on it, but it is still brimming with plenty of established medal winners and the 4 star elite, so in terms of medals it’s likely to be the usual suspects, the British, the Germans, and then a close call between Ireland, France, Sweden, and possibly Belgium. Personally, given we’re hosting the Olympics here, and have so many non-Europeans that are camped in our back yard, I think it would have been fabulous to make it an “Open Europeans” and hopefully put this sport front and centre. Some of the Brits might grumble about all these foreigners, but how great to have so many of the world’s best literally in your own back yard.
As a special treat the BBC are broadcasting the championships live ‘on the red button’, so if you’re out competing at Highclere, at the Europeans, travelling, or otherwise engaged in outdoor activity, like me, make sure you’ve arranged for someone to press record!
I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a helmet cam video from the Europeans sneak out at some point too!