"I’m sure the audience out there will be phenomenal but we just need to stay focused.”
Selectors at British Dressage have announced the Great Britain squad - current World, European and Paralympic team champions - for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014, which get underway in Normandy, France, from 23 August.
The squad comprises:
• Grade Ia: Sophie Christiansen (26) with Janeiro 6
• Grade Ib: Ricky Balshaw (27) with LJT Enggaards Solitaire
• Grade Ib: Lee Pearson (40) with Zion
• Grade II: Natasha Baker (24) with Cabral
• Grade IV: Sophie Wells (24) with Valerius
Chef de Mission, Will Connell said: “The British para-equestrian dressage team have enjoyed many successes over recent years and it is clear that there are a number of nations working hard to push us off our perch. We travel to WEG with a very experienced squad that will be focussed on securing Rio 2016 qualification and winning medals for Great Britain.”
This will be a first FEI World Equestrian Games for reigning European and Paralympic champion Baker. She said: “I’m very excited. I’m heading into it as the WEG newbie so it’s even more exciting. JP [Cabral] has been such a star and has been getting better each year; this will be the fourth successive Championship I’ve been selected with him for, so that really shows our partnership. I expect WEG will have more of a feeling of the Paralympic Games, especially as there are eight other sports there competing. To be able to watch the other disciplines will make it even more special. It will also be my trainer Lisa’s [Lisa Hopkins] first Championships with me so I am really excited for her as well.”
For multi World, Paralympic and European champion Pearson, selection sees a return to the Team GB fold after missing out on last year’s ECCO FEI European Para-Dressage Championships. He said: “I’m kind of in a state of shock. I’ve been really focussed to get Zion to the best he can be. I don’t think we’ve got below 74% over the last two months and I get so much enjoyment from riding him. At Hartpury I just couldn’t stop smiling. I’m really flattered and excited, but aware that we need to go in and do the job. I’m sure the audience out there will be phenomenal but we just need to stay focused.”
All riders compete as individuals at the Championships with a team of four riders to be announced before the start of the competition contesting the team event (the results of the rider competing as an individual will not have any weighting on the overall team score).
For more information on the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014, please visit the event website.