A GLITTERING junior career already proudly on his CV, now Wiltshire rider David Doel hopes to make a further impact on eventing’s senior ranks in 2014.
Doel, 20, based in Reybridge, near Lacock, ended last year as a European Young Rider (ages 19-21) team silver medallist and was knocking on the door of senior international recognition – a status he aims to enhance further during the next 12 months.
Already a part of the British Equestrian Federation’s World Class programme, Doel now hopes to guide his strong of horses towards success at the higher-profile three and four-star events.
“Last year, I would say was a pretty good year, not quite the results we would have liked in terms of top results, but still very decent results,’’ he said.
“Obviously we had the team silver medal at the Europeans, but I didn’t do quite as well individually as I would liked to have done.
“But we had some very good other results, including a good second place at the CIC*** event at Tattersalls (in Ireland, on Koyuna Sun Magic), which is the highest level of competition that I’ve competed at so far.’’
Other 2013 successes included an early-season CIC* victory and podium finish in Portugal on Ricoshea and Koyuna Sun Magic respectively, the former being the mount on which he helped Britain secure that European team silver later in the year.
A handful of class victories also peppered the record of the youngsters, who won team gold and individual bronze for Great Britain in the Junior Europeans in 2011.
He said: “Nearly all of the horses were very consistent and we had some very good results.
“The string of horses has changed completely in the last couple of years. It’s just our progression really.
“As a young rider you need horses that are specific for the level you are competing at but we’re now looking at pushing on to seniors.
“All our horses are now looking at events like Badminton or Burghley or being senior team horses.
“Whereas before the horses were aimed at one or two-star level, they’ll now be aimed at three and four star events.’’
“Last year, we only did two three-day events, mainly because I did a lot of one-days, just so I could get to know them.
“This year, hopefully, I’ll be here there and everywhere. We’ve got eight or nine horses that we’ll have doing three-day competitions. There will be a lot more travelling around and bigger competitions.’’
Top 30 finishes in three-star events such as the Barbury International Horse Trials and Le Pin Au Haras, to follow his Tattersalls performance, further underlined his progress – something he hopes to maintain along with his status on the World Class programme.
“It’s a huge help to us,’’ said Doel, a former British U18 and U21 national champion.
“For the horses, it provides a lot more training and more money for me to go training and extra lessons and help from very good trainers that normally I couldn’t afford.
“We have World Class training days and it just means I can afford to go to people like Adam Kemp (Gloucestershire-based dressage coach maybe twice a month.
“My dressage and my cross country are usually pretty decent and my showjumping is definitely my weakest, but we have worked on it a lot. I have fairly regular lessons with a lady called Gill Watson (British development showjumping coach), one of the World Class trainers.
“The programme enables me to go to these higher-end people.’’
Another sign that Doel is on the radar of British eventing chiefs was his consideration for teams to contest the 2013 FEI Nations Cup – a competition that Britain, featuring the likes of Wiltshire’s Kitty King and Laura Collett, won at the final event in Boekelo, the Netherlands, in October.
Doel was selected for earlier rounds in Strzegom, Poland, and Montelibretti, Italy, and while the former was cancelled and a horse injury prevented him from featuring in the latter, he said: “It’s my aim to make the Nations Cup teams again.
“I was selected for it twice but still haven’t quite made the team yet. It’s a tier down from the top senior teams, not quite your Olympics or European Championships, but it’s for up and coming riders like myself to become more part of the senior set-up.
“They’ve made it seem more accessible. Seeing guys like Tom McEwen, based at Badgerstown near Marlborough, and Izzy Taylor making the senior team makes everything seem a little closer for us.’’
Doel heads to Portugal next month with a handful of horses to hone his preparations for the next year.
He said: “I’m on the World Class programme and that will be my aim for the next year. I’ve got to be producing the results at three-star level and above to prove I’m worth keeping.
“Our other main aim this year will be to go to the Young Rider Europeans, which are out in Portugal.’’
For information on riding, schooling and horse enquiries, see reybridgeeventing.com
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