Britain must do without Whitaker

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The Independent Online

There was sadness rather than surprise at the omission of John Whitaker when the British squad for the European Show Jumping Championships, which begin in Arnhem on 27 June, was announced yesterday. Whitaker, despite his talent, is powerless without a suitable horse. He had one possible mount in his Olympic partner, Calvaro, until the inadequacies of the big stallion were exposed in Aachen last week.

Britain will be without John Whitaker for the major contest of the year for only the third time since 1980. But at least his younger brother, Michael, has been chosen with Virtual Village Prince of Wales. While Calvaro was regressing in Aachen, Prince of Wales looked stronger with each outing.

Di Lampard and Abbervail Dream return to the squad after their controversial omission from the Olympic Games. Mark Armstrong, who last rode in a championship team when winning a silver medal in 1993, is named with Elise, whose Aachen performances confirmed that the mare has the necessary scope and courage.

Two 26-year-old newcomers ­ Andrew Davies and Scott Smith ­ join the squad of five from which four will be chosen. Davies is the more experienced, having been in close contention for an Olympic place with Captain Wellington, who was in the victorious British team in the Aachen Nations Cup last year. Smith had a timely victory on Sunday when adding the Barcelona Grand Prix to his recent store of successes on Cabri d'Elle.