Five eventing athletes have been selected by the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) for the UK Sport National Lottery funded World Class Programme Podium Potential squad for 2019-2021.
The 2019-2021 podium potential squad is made up of the following athletes: Tom Jackson, Richard Jones, Harry Meade, Willa Newton and Georgie Spence.
The BEF reviewed the performance pathway in early 2017 and this resulted in a wider pool of athletes being eligible to apply for the World Class Programme Podium Potential squad. The selection process assessed athlete and horse combinations on their potential to compete on a Senior Championship team for Great Britain and add to its medal success. This process included athletes being evaluated on a range of areas which included their competition record, performance attitude and the health and fitness of themselves and their horses.
Explaining this, David Hamer, BEF Head of Performance Pathways, says; “We revised the criteria for selection as we recognised at this level performance can fluctuate due mostly to athletes acquiring or losing the ride on a horse. We removed the previous age restrictions to ensure that athletes at any stage of their development, who met the criteria and have the horsepower required at Senior Championship level, were eligible to apply. We received a lot of impressive applications and we are very pleased to be able to welcome the selected athletes on to the Programme.”
BEF Chief Executive Nick Fellows added; “This is a very talented pool of athletes with exciting horse power and I cannot wait to see how they progress over the next two years on the Programme. Our World Class team will be supporting these athletes and their horses on their journey as we seek to establish medal winners for the future.”
Athletes on the Programme receive tailored support in world-class coaching, human and equine sports science and medicine, nutrition and sports psychology, as part of an established training pathway. As an example of the support they receive, the selected athletes across the the Olympic and Paralympic equestrian disciplines were invited to Warwick University for their induction where they met members of the World Class Programme team. As part of the induction, the athletes were given inspirational talks by former Marine, Ben McBean, who explained how his catastrophic injuries in Afghanistan at the hands of the Taliban have helped to shape his positive attitude to have belief in the future and by Olympic sailor, Saskia Clark MBE who gave her insights into what it took to win a Gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Eventing Worldwide profiles the World Class Programme Podium Potential squad and what they have achieved throughout their eventing careers….
Tom Jackson: Tom, who is based near Ashford in Kent, is a former British Junior and Young Rider
team member and medallist. In 2011, with Waltham Fiddlers Find, he was a member of the gold medal team at the Junior European Championships at Vale Sabroso. In 2013 he was part of the team which won silver at the Young Rider Europeans at Jardy. At Bramham in 2014 he won the Under 25 Championship and was part of the Young Rider European Championship team which won bronze, finishing seventh individually. Tom made his debut at 4 star level in 2017 at Badminton, also competing at Pau the same year and again in 2018 with two rides.
Richard Jones: Richard events successfully up to 4* level, and is an accredited UKCC level 2 Coach, operating from his base in Leicestershire. He started riding at the age of eight years old, competing in
show jumping and eventing for the Pony Club both Burghley and the Cottesmore. After leaving school Richard went and trained with Dane Rawlin’s in East Sussex to get a better foundation in dressage, before setting up his eventing yard at the age of 20. Richard had great success with Highland Ford, with numerous top 10 placings at all levels throughout his career including 5th at in 2013 and 9th at Pau in 2012. With Alfies Clover he was seven at last year’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
Harry Meade: As the son of Olympic medallist Richard Meade, Harry rode from a young age and was a member of the Beaufort Hunt Pony Club.In 2000, Harry was the National Pony Club eventing champion and the following year a member of the British Junior team. Before running his own yard Harry was stable jockey to several riders including William Fox-Pitt. He made his debut at 4* with Midnight Dazzler at Burghley in 2005, winning awards for the best first timer and best Under-25. The combination completed Burghley three times and Badminton on four occasions. In 2009 Harry became the youngest person ever to receive an Armada dish awarded for five Badminton completions. He was part of the Great British team which won the silver medal at the World Equestrian Games in 2014. With Away Cruising, he has contested four top flight competitions – Luhmuhlen, Badminton and Burghley, finishing in the top 20 on each occasion, with his sixth placed at last year’s Burghley being their best placing to date.
Willa Newton: Willa is based near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire and comes from an equestrian family. She started riding at a young age and was a keen member of the Belvoir Hunt Pony Club. It was when Willa acquired Neelix that she made a mark as a young rider, going from the Pony Club
Championships to her first CCI four star with the horse. They won team gold at the Junior Europeans in 2008 and represented Great Britain at three consecutive Young Rider European Championships winning Team Gold and Individual Silver at Blair Castle in 2011, and in 2012 Willa completed her first four star with Neelix at Burghley. In 2018 Willa notched up two top ten placings at this level – 8th at Burghley and 5th in Luhmuhlen.
Georgie Spence: Wiltshire-basedGeorgie first competed in show jumping. She competed on Home Pony International teams in England, Wales and Ireland with top 10 placings at the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) and Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) as well as being shortlisted for the Pony
European Show Jumping Team, before switching to eventing. In 2006 Georgie was part of the Gold medal winning team at the Junior European Championships, riding Song for Gull. In 2007, 2008 and 2009 she competed at the Young Rider European Championships, winning two team Gold medals. She competed at her first Badminton with Running Brook in 2008 (completing Burghley in the same year) and in 2009 was the only rider to complete the cross country with two horses inside the time. She has completed 4* competitions on more than 15 occasions. Georgie has been on numerous Great British Nation Cups team, winning at Wiener Neustadt in 2017 and coming second at The Plains in the USA, both with Halltown Harley.