The World Class Programme is a key programme within the British Equestrian Foundation (BEF). It was set up before the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 with a simple aim – to win more medals for Great Britain on the international stage!
The programme is about identifying the most talented riders and horses, and working with them to ensure that they reach their maximum potential and deliver their best possible.
Edward and I were delighted to be invited to Addington for the selection day in October along with riders and horses already on the programme who were up for re-selection and others like us, for whom it was the first time.
I was lucky enough to get there in time to watch one of my trainers – Becky Moody with her superstar Carinsio – performing for the judges – Stephen Clarke who is one of the worlds most respected judges and Princess Nathalie of Denmark who has won an Olympic medal for her country. No pressure then!
Ed and I rode through the PSG and then had to show our current level of work. We received immediate feedback from Princess Nathalie in the arena, then after everyone had finished riding we met again and Stephen Clarke offered his expert opinion and advice as we watched a recording of our PSG test.
We weren’t given an outcome on the day, but I knew in my heart that we hadn’t given our best performance, so wasn’t surprised to receive a letter a few weeks later thanking me for attending, but not being selected this year. However, the programme is continually reviewing the performance of those lucky enough to have been selected and I have been asked to apply again next year, as they acknowledge that horses and riders develop at different rates.
As well as our own performance being assessed, we were given a presentation from the GB Team veterinary surgeon who gave us an insight into the huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes in putting together an Olympic Games, particularly the equestrian sports due to the extremely strict precautions required to ensure the safety and well-being of the horses. The logistics of getting them out to Rio for next years Olympics are immense – not just the 1st class air transport (for horses, though not their riders!), but also feed, hay and haylage, veterinary medications, etc. Once out there they are to be kept in complete quarantine in an area that has been guaranteed to be free from any disease, so that they will be able to leave Rio and come straight home after competing. They have had to build a veterinary hospital with facilities able to deal with any injury so as not to have to send them out of the quarantined area. It was mind blowing and really interesting.
So, all in all the day was a great experience and I’d like to thank all those involved in organising it, the judges for giving up their time and also Caroline Griffiths and the BD staff who helped the day run smoothly.