So far there has been no shortlist for the UK as the final trials will be held at Barbury CIC3* (which I will write a report from with photos). These are held on the 11th July and so because of that this article is currently conjecture and guesswork so I thought I would mention a few of the possibilities. There is also a final prep at Aston le Walls advanced but I believe this will be used more as a combined training (dressage and Show jumping) for the horses selected.
One of the reasons I think so little has been mentioned is that is a wide open race at the moment to make the final 6. Some pairs have shown real blips in form and others have been quietly consistent. One of the things that I believe is that the team will be a team of fairly young horses. This is a team for the future and it is very exciting that we have so much choice and depth in the UK. I am very excited about WEG and think that the UK has an outstanding chance *hopes that this comment is not the kiss of death!*
Nicola Wilson – Opposition Buzz.
This combination has to be a definite as they have done nothing wrong. They are a superbly consistent pair and I fully expect to see them being pathfinders for the team again in Kentucky. Opposition Buzz has been lightly campaigned this year after his best result at Badminton. Dressage has previously been a weakness (average is 55) as they are not winners in this phase but his superb jumping and fast cross country normally makes up for this.
Mary King – Imperial Cavalier
Another who I think will be on the plane to WEG as another who has not been campaigned since their 4th place at Badminton. Good in the dressage and solid cross country. Mary has a wealth of experience at this level and the horse is only 13.
Tina Cook – Miners Frolic
I think Tina will be forgiven for the blip at Badminton. Miners Frolic had a recent run proving there were no issues in an OI and finished 3rd. A good result at Barbury will be good enough to see them on the plane to WEG as they have such brilliant results in the past with Bronze at the Olympics and Gold at Europeans.
Ollie Townend – Ashdale Cruise Master
I just feel he will get a place to go to WEG. Ollie gained a good result at Luhmuhlen finishing 5th with dressage that is improving. He also won a very competitive CIC3* at Tattersalls. This horse is only 11 and has a big future ahead of him. My issue with this pair is that when they are good they are on fire but when it goes wrong they seem to have a horse fall. Kentucky was the second horse fall for this pair as he also had one at an OI.
William Fox Pitt – Seacookie/Cool Mountain
WFP is a total genius of a rider and both these horses are ones for the future but who it will do no harm to have the experience of a major championship. Seacookie perhaps is the stronger on paper having been placed 6th at Kentucky and 7th round a very strong Burghley last year. He was withdrawn from Badminton with concerns that he was not quite sound but these worries seem to be over has he has run quietly round a couple of OIs with no issues and is entered at Barbury. Cool Mountain, I feel is another year away from being a championship horse. His win at Kentucky I think shocked everyone including his rider! Kentucky is seen over here as a soft 4* so I think he needs to still prove himself. I guess he is a back up to Seacookie and it will be interesting to see who gets the better result at Barbury.
Lucy Wiegersma – Woodfalls Inigo Jones/Grannetvka Prince
Lucy Wiegersma has an enviable string of horses and these two are the best and both have proven themselves. I think Inigo Jones will be the first choice for Lucy as he has been consistent with a 5th at Kentucky last year and 6th at Luhmuhlen this year. He has also had European Championship experience and was 2nd in the World Cup qualifier at Chatsworth. I think his blip will be forgiven at Badminton. This horse is only 11 and I think there is lots more to come as he looks like a real 4* horse. Last year he looked a bit green in places but now he looks the business.
Sharon Hunt – Tankers Town
I would love to see Sharon go to WEG but there are a few ifs and buts with this horse. He is 16 now and though he has just won a 4* and has been ultra consistent throughout his career I feel this elimination at Badminton last year and his occasional napping out of the start box is just too big a risk. I think this pair will be back up if anything goes wrong with the above.
Pippa Funnell – Redesigned
I have mentioned this pair as this horse has a very solid 3* record. Pippa has thought very highly of this horse for a long time and there is not many riders more experienced than Pippa. I think they have an outsiders chance but I have mentioned them as Tina Cook made it to Beijing on a horse with solid 3* results and none yet at 4*.
Ruth Edge – Two Thyme
Previous winners of Luhmuhlen 4* and last year won at Gatcombe. Age is against this horse and he is not the most sound. I have mentioned them for an outside chance as on their day they have amazing dressage and are potential winners when the luck is with them. Ruth has a lot of up and coming young horses and I think is a name you will see regularly on the teams in the future.