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July 12, 2013

No Nick Skelton?

Ben Maher and Cella will likely represent Great Britain at this year's Ecco FEI European Show Jumping Championships. Photo by Mollie Bailey.

The British show jumping selectors announced July 11 the team for the Ecco FEI European Show Jumping Championships, though one big name was left off the list.

The squad comprises:

• Scott Brash riding Lady Kirkham and Lord & Lady Harris’s Hello Sanctos

• William Funnell riding the Billy Stud’s Billy Congo

• Ben Maher riding Jane Clark’s Cella

• Robert Smith riding his own Voila IV

• Michael Whitaker riding his own Viking V

A team of four will be announced before the Championships, which are scheduled for Aug. 20-24, in Herning, Denmark. Brash is nominated with a reserve horse, Ursula XII, as are Maher (Tripple X III) and Whitaker (Amai II).

The notable name missing from the squad roster is Nick Skelton, who was part of the gold medal-winning show jumping team at the 2012 London Olympic Games with Big Star, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Quick Star—Jolanda, Nimmerdor). The pair’s also enjoyed a remarkable 2013 season, picking up a big win at the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen CSI***** (Germany) in June. The British federation released a statement about Skelton’s exclusion.

“Following discussions with [Big Star’s owners] Gary and Beverley Widdowson and Nick Skelton it has been decided not to enter Big Star for the 2013 European Championships in Herning, Denmark. All wish to emphasize that [the Olympic Games in] Rio 2016 remains the primary target for Nick and Big Star, and all are committed to helping Great Britain stay in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Division 1 and to ensure Great Britain qualifies for Rio 2016,” stated the release.

“Nick is not getting any younger, and Big Star is recognized as one of the most talented horses in the world. His recent wins in the Aachen and Rome Grand Prix [classes] and second place in the London Global Tour demonstrate how essential this combination are to the success of Great Britain in Rio,” it continued.

Skelton added: “After much consideration and discussion with Gary, Beverley and [British team performance manager] Rob Hoekstra, I feel that it is in the best interest for Big Star to give him a year off from a Championship. It is our goal to try and reach Rio 2016, and conservative management will only help to this cause.” 

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