William Fox-Pitt is the star name leading the Great Britain three-day eventing team into this August’s World Equestrian Games.Embed from Getty Images
Four-time Olympian Fox-Pitt is one of five names selected to take part in the 2014 championships, alongside Zara Phillips, Tina Cook, Oliver Townend, Izzy Taylor and Pippa Funnell. He has already won a major event this year, the Kentucky international being his third success in the competition in the last five years. This time, he’s taking horse Chilli Morning as his companion and will be hoping to improve on 2010’s showing, with a silver in the individual event and gold for the Great Britain team.
“I am thrilled, it is always an honour to be able to secure a place on the team and this year we look hopefully very strong as a team, so I hope we have a good result and get a qualifying result for Rio,” Fox-Pitt told British Eventing. “This is my fourth WEG; these Games are always so special and it’s a privilege to get the chance to represent our country.”
Fox-Pitt’s ride is relatively unproven on the global stage. Although he propelled the Brit to a recent win at a one-day Bramham event, the combination retired from the 2013 Kentucky event and could only manage third place in last year’s European Eventing Championships.
Even so, Fox-Pitt has a strong team on his side. He finds himself reunited with fellow London 2012 silver medallists Tina Cook and Zara Phillips, the latter only recently returning to eventing since her pregnancy and finds herself riding the talented High Kingdom. Mary King is one of the names missing out on the WEGs, an omission perhaps partly related to her recent two-month suspension following dangerous riding at the Bramham event. Nicola Wilson also misses out, her only major appearance this season being a withdrawal from Badminton prior to the show jumping.
Riding Black Tie II, Oliver Townend is one major name to be looking out for at these Games and could cause an upset. Townend finished an impressive second at Badminton being Australia’s Sam Griffiths and was also the highest place British rider at June’s Luhmuhlen event, placing fourth. Coupled with a smattering of wins throughout in the year in smaller events, including a Nations Cup win, and Townend really has the potential to go far.
“It was a really nice surprise to hear I had been called up for the team. We went to Luhmühlen for his first CCI4* last weekend without any real expectations yet he exceeded anything we could have hoped for him and more,” said Townend of his selection. “Last time I went to a WEG I was just a young lad of 23! It is a fantastic competition as you know that everyone there is the best in the world and it will be great to spot some of my equestrian idols again, some that I have followed since I was young.”
This year’s event appears to be ready to kick off under the shadow of a number of competition-based deaths in June 2014, but organisers are committed to ensuring the safety of everybody entering the four-yearly event. The eventing portion of the World Equestrian Games begins on the 28th August, with two days of dressage followed by cross-country racing and the show jumping finale.