Equestrianism: Britain and Ireland secure Super League slots

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The Independent Online

Despite their dismal 16th place at last month's World Equestrian Games, Britain's show jumpers have retained a coveted place among the eight nations that have qualified for the inaugural 2003 Samsung Super League. The octet was named after the Athens Nations Cup, with Britain and Ireland ending seventh and eighth places in the final standings that were decided on points gained in the World Games and Nations Cup series.

Britain gained all their points in Nations Cups (helped by victories at Lisbon and Lummen), but Ireland needed a combination of the two. It was, however, an anxiously close call for the Irish, who finished on the same points as Switzerland. The final Super League place was eventually decided on the results at the World Games, in which Ireland achieved the higher place.

Britain's Super League status should help the British Equestrian Federation to argue the show jumpers' case for continued lottery funding and thereby a place in the 2004 Olympic Games at Athens, both of which are in doubt. Olympic qualification will follow gaining one of two places on offer at next August's European Championships in Germany at Donaueschingen. They also have to produce horses and riders that can hold their own against formidable opposition when the Super League contests get under way next May.