Smith is handed his chance on Cabri d'Elle

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The Independent Online

Michael Bullman, the chef d'equipe of the Great Britain show jumping team, made a surprise decision yesterday when he included the 26-year-old newcomer Scott Smith in his quartet for the European Championships which begin here today.

Mark Armstrong will go first for the team on Elise, followed by Smith on Cabri d'Elle, Di Lampard on Abbervail Dream and Michael Whitaker on Prince of Wales.

Before yesterday's Training Competition, Bullman had expected that Andrew Davies – rather than Smith – would be the newcomer on the team. But at that stage he had never seen Cabri d'Elle jump. The horse had made a name for himself in Spain this month, when he won the King's Cup in Madrid and the Grand Prix of Barcelona while Bullman was attending other shows. Watching the 11-year-old jump a clear round yesterday, however, convinced Bullman.

For Davies, who came so close to selection for the Olympic team last year with Captain Wellington, it was another disappointment. Bullman said: "I feel desperately sorry for Andrew, but he has a very good younger horse in Limbo so let's hope he'll be ready for next year's World Games."

Smith, who comes from Yorkshire and is currently based with Nick Skelton, was naturally elated with his selection. "It's a step up for me and it's natural to be nervous when you do something new, but I'm not overly nervous," he said. Smith has seemingly always grabbed his opportunities with confidence. A chance meeting with Mike Dawson three years ago resulted in him finding an enthusiastic owner prepared to buy top horses. When Nick Skelton had the accident which ended his competitive career, Smith was around to become his "first project" as a trainer.