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Page last updated at 12:10 GMT, Wednesday, 25 June 2008 13:10 UK

Maher selected in equestrian team

Ben Maher on Rolette
Maher and his horse, Rolette, have improved substantially over the past year

Ben Maher will travel to his first Olympics in the GB show jumping team with Ellen Whitaker missing selection following an injury to her horse.

Maher, 25, joins Whitaker's uncles John and Michael Whitaker in the squad, alongside Tim Stockdale, who will make his first Olympic Games appearance.

Stockdale, 43, sacrificed his hard won place in April's World Cup final to keep his horse fresh for qualification.

Laura Bechtolsheimer, Jane Gregory and Emma Hindle compete in the dressage.

A leg infection to Ellen Whitaker's horse, Locarno 62, ruled her out of the selection process earlier in the week.

Maher said he was unable to believe he had earned a place on the British team.

"Ten months ago my horse, Rolette, was jumping 1.40m national classes and I was having the worst year ever," he said.

"However when she won the Maastricht and Mechelen Grand Prix at the end of last year I knew I had a good horse. She's going from strength to strength and I believe her best is yet to come.

I am in a state of shock - I never dared to hope we would be in contention for an Olympic team position

Jane Gregory, GB dressage team
"To ride at the Olympic Games is everyone's dream - I feel incredibly lucky."

Will Connell, Team GB's equestrian team leader, paid tribute to Maher's recent form.

"Ben has landed some excellent results over the last few months to demonstrate he is ready for his first senior championship team appearance," said Connell.

Maher is joined by fellow debutant Stockdale, 18 years his senior, who withdrew from the World Cup final to keep his horse in peak condition for the outdoor campaign.

Nomination to the Olympic team fulfils an ambition Stockdale has held since he first represented Great Britain in 1988.

"I am over the moon," he told the British Olympic Association's website.

"My mare, Corlato, has gone fantastically well and she deserves the opportunity to jump at the Olympic Games.

"The Olympic Games is everything I have worked for and a huge honour. I am a very lucky man to have such a fantastic horse to ride."

Dressage rider Carl Hester misses out on a fourth Olympic appearance following injuries to his two horses, Lecantos and Dolendo.

Gregory, who is from Great Cheverell in Wiltshire, takes the third place on the dressage team alongside Bechtolsheimer and Hindle.

"I am in a state of shock," she said. "I never dared to hope we would be in contention for an Olympic team position.

"I have ridden Lucky Star since he was four-years-old, he is an extraordinary horse and we are both preparing to give this all we've got."

Dressage team:

Laura Bechtolsheimer riding her own and Dr Wilfried Bechtolsheimer's Mistral Hojris

Jane Gregory riding Greenlands Farm Ltd's Lucky Star

Emma Hindle riding her own Lancet

Reserve: Maria Eilberg riding Ferdi Eilberg's Two Sox

Show jumping team:

Ben Maher riding Mr Daniel Paul's Rolette

Tim Stockdale riding Mr John Bosher's Fresh Direct Corlato

Michael Whitaker riding Gillespie Equestrian's Suncal Portofino 63

John Whitaker riding Miss Rebecca Stones' Peppermill

see also
Second GB equestrian out of Games
24 Jun 08 |  Equestrian
Phillips out of GB Olympic team
11 Jun 08 |  Equestrian
Sark's Hester out of 2008 games
19 Jun 08 |  Equestrian
Stockdale hopeful of Olympic spot
22 May 08 |  Equestrian
GB team qualifies for 2008 Games
17 Aug 07 |  Equestrian
Equestrian sport on the BBC
05 Sep 07 |  Equestrian
Team GB for Beijing
24 Jun 08 |  Team GB
Show jumping's new breed
10 Oct 07 |  Equestrian

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