National call up is surreal for showjumper Wills

Wills Oakden
Wills Oakden

Newburgh’s Wills Oakden is hoping to be the best of British when he lines up for his country at next weekend’s Longines FEI European Championship.

The showjumper has been called up to ride David Kenwright and Sylvia Douglas’s British bred 12-year-old mare, Greystone Midnight Melody at the event at Blair Castle.

It will be a journey of less than 40 miles for Wills to make to his first senior Team GBR appearance.

Blair Castle is a favourite for Oakden, coming away with team gold in the Young Rider European Championships in 2011 and finishing second in the Scottish Open Championship last year.

“I can’t believe it to be honest,” he said.

“It never crossed my mind that this would happen – I didn’t even expect to be on the reserve list, so the last few days have been something of a whirlwind.

“It’s been a real team effort to get this far and things have just come together at the right time.

“Obviously I’m hugely disappointed for Tom (Jackson, whose horse has been withdrawn).

“I’ve trained with him through the British Equestrian Federation World Class Programme and know him well – he’s a really nice guy.

“For myself and my owners I am, of course, extremely excited.

“They bred Molly - to be able to give them back something like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“They were among my first owners and have been a long standing, massive support to me; I used to ride Molly’s sire, Greystone Pathfinder, for them.”

Molly has already proved herself on Blair Castle’s testing terrain; placing second in the Scottish Open Championship with Wills last year.

The championship is part of UK Sport’s National Lottery funded #EveryRoadtoRio series, supporting British athletes’ preparation and qualification for Rio 2016

This summer’s event is the last major championship before the Olympic Games. The Championship is also supported by EventScotland, which has a longstanding relationship with the team at Blair Castle.