When Michael Bullman names the team for the European Show Jumping Championships, which begin tomorrow in Arnhem, there can be no doubt that, barring injury, Mark Armstrong, Di Lampard and Michael Whitaker will be included. These three will be joined by either Andrew Davies or Scott Smith, who are the two other riders on the squad of five.
Notwithstanding Smith's splendid form this month (the Yorkshireman won the King's Cup in Madrid and the Grand Prix in Barcelona on Cabri d'Elle) Davies appears to have the edge. Whereas Smith has ridden in only one Nations Cup, Davies has represented Britain on 12 occasions. Last year he and the consistent Captain Wellington were in serious contention for a place on the Olympic team.
Bullman, who is chef d'équipe of the Great Britain team, intends to watch today's training round before naming his quartet. He believes that the Germans and Belgians will have the two strongest teams, but is nevertheless "feeling quite positive about our chances if we have luck on our side."
Fourteen countries will be represented by full teams and another five by individual riders. However, some top horses will be missing, among them Switzerland's wonderful grey Calvaro and ET, the mount of Austria's Hugo Simon, who pulled out of the competition yesterday morning because his horse had not recovered from an injury sustained in Aachen.
Meanwhile, four of the British horses en route to Arnhem had to be given a lift to their destination after a blowout on the motorway yesterday. The horsebox carrying the mounts of Armstrong and Davies was about 30 minutes from Arnhem when a rear tyre burst. Fortunately Michael Whitaker's horsebox was behind, so the stranded horses – all unhurt – were loaded on to his vehicle to complete their journey.