|WFP & Lionheart Headed To Greenwich | The Olympics Are So Nearly Here It’s Scary|
The waiting is over (well almost – we wait to see who is on the subs bench), Team GB Eventing has been announced amongst much comment, opinion, and heated discussion – it’s all a little scary! Some are ranting, some are raving, and others are just loving the debate about selection choices.
The 5 members making up the team are:
Kristina Cook – (41) Miners Frolic
William Fox-Pitt (43) Lionheart
Piggy (Georgina) French (31) Jakata or DHI Topper W
Mary King (51) Imperial Cavalier
Zara Phillips (31) High Kingdom
|Zara Phillips | On The Team|
Personally I think Zara is an inspired choice. The Olympics is nothing but pressure, and a home Olympics is like turning up the gas and leaving the lid on! Her horse has continued to grow, mature and improve event after event, and Zara has achieved more than any other her age at senior level. I would suggest aided by the fact that she can handle the pressure better than most due largely to the attention she attracts because of her royal connections.
If you look down this list you’ll notice that each of these riders is predisposed to handling pressure very well. I’ve always thought this is what separates the best from the very best, and given the right horsepower you’d expect to see Pippa Funnell in that list, given how well she has learnt to manage nerves when it matters most.
Another interesting observation on this subject is how calm, relaxed and utterly focussed both the New Zealanders & Australians are in this respect. For example, watch three of the most experienced cross country riders (Mark Todd, Andrew Nicholson & Andrew Hoy) on course and you’ll notice they are ‘dead pan’ focused on their ride, yet out of the saddle they’re always smiling. I have huge respect for the New Zealanders & Australians, they almost never look like a rabbit caught in the headlights, on or off the pitch.
|Lucy Weigersma & Simon Porloe|
It’s inevitable that many other very talented GB riders & horses are going to be devastated at missing out on the chance to ride at Greenwich, notably Nicola Wilson (Opposition Buzz), Lucy Wiegersma (Simon Porloe), Francis Whittington (Sir Percival), Sarah Cohen (Treason), and Laura Collett (Rayef), but I think the bigger surprise out of the list is with the first two horses.
Miners Frolic, I know is a medals winner, and has returned to form after a life threatening illness but I still have doubt over his return and at this level so soon, particularly after such a condition. Personally I would have played the wild card and put either Sarah Cohen or Lucy Wiegersma in this slot and the other in reserve.
|Sarah Cohen & Treason|
|The Utterly Stunning Imperial Cavalier|
Lionheart wouldn’t be one of the best horses in William’s burgeoning string of Olympic qualified horses, although he was 3rd at Blenheim CIC*** & Pau CCI **** last year, so I was surprised to see only this horse nominated where as Piggy has a choice of two.
Both Imperial Cavalier & Jakarta are outstanding event horses so it’s really no surprise to see either in the line up, and both Mary & Piggy I think are individual medal contenders, this time round.
As a quick footnote:
Barbury will prove an awesome event once more, as the entire US shortlist, all 11 of them, are heading there as their final selection trial, which I kind of think is a little risky personally. I’ve not seen all of these horses run in person, but will be very interested to see the great Mystery Whisper. You can get a feel for the US Selection Fever over at Eventing Nation. (I wish I had a horse to take to Barbury this year, it’s such a fantastic event to ride or spectate at – go if you can!)
Lastly, I can’t help but feel the New Zealanders are going to play a big game at Greenwich. That’s hardly a surprise, but it’s blinking exciting! If NZB Campino gets selected for Mark Todd, I know one couple that’s going to be beside themselves, and so excited they’ll go pop!