Equestrianism: Olympia turn down leader Davenport

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The Independent Online

Richard Davenport, who is the leading British rider in the World Cup, has not been given a place at next week's Olympia Show Jumping Championships which host Britain's only World Cup qualifier. The organisers have stuck to their own apparently inflexible rules, which have given Olympia places to the top 12 home riders on the British Show Jumping Association's rider rankings and to the three who qualified through a show at Towerlands in Essex.

Davenport, who earned one of the three places on offer at Towerlands last year, bypassed October's meeting because he had embarked on a more demanding challenge. The 21-year-old Cheshire rider, who has been based with Jan Tops in The Netherlands for most of the year, was attempting to earn World Cup points at other European venues.

Having finished second in Helsinki and equal sixth in Verona, Davenport is 14th on the Western European League of the World Cup with 22 points. The next best Briton, Di Lampard, has 15 points and is back in equal 22nd place. However, unless somebody pulls out at the last moment, it seems that the London spectators will not have a chance to see Davenport in action. This has to be sad for them, considering that he is one of the brightest hopes for the future of British show jumping.

The total prize money at the Olympia show, which runs from 19-23 December, amounts to some £232,000 – an increase of five per cent over last year. Now in its 30th year, the BBC will celebrate the occasion by including two classes – Saturday's Ericsson World Cup Qualifier and Sunday's new Double your Money contest – live on Grandstand for the first time.

The line-up from overseas will include Franke Sloothaak and Lars Nieberg from Germany, Michel Robert and Eric Navet from France and Olympic champion Jeroen Dubbeldam from the Netherlands.

John and Michael Whitaker will be among the British front-runners, and will be joined by Mark Armstrong, Nicky Boulter, Damien Charles, Andrew Davies, James Fisher, Di Lampard, Alex Newsham, John Renwick, Robert Smith, Scott Smith. Tim Stockdale, Lynne Van Heyningen and Veronique Whitaker.