Absence of equestrian names on SPOTY list disappoints

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Riders have expressed their dismay that the much-publicised BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist does not contain a single equestrian.

Of the possible contenders who could have been included on the final list was former award winner Zara Phillips – who won a silver medal alongside Northallerton’s Nicola Wilson in the team eventing at London – and Charlotte Dujardin, who won two gold medals.

Among those nominated are Olympic champions Mo Farah, Sir Chris Hoy, Sheffield’s Jessica Ennis and Andy Murray, who won his first grand slam as well as striking gold at London.

Gold medallist and Britain’s first Tour de France winner, Bradley Wiggins, is the bookies’ favourite.

The winner will be named on December 16.

Andrew Finding, chief executive of the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), has been campaigning for the Olympic and Paralympic riders to win the team award. But it is the absence of any riders in the individual category that has angered some.

Event rider Harry Dzenis tweeted: “No equestrians chosen! Charlotte Dujardin’s amazing double gold or our showjumping team’s gold was surely worthy?”

The British Grooms’ Association tweeted that it was great to hear Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans “commenting on the lack of equestrians in the SPOTY list”.

Evans spoke passionately about Team GB’s equestrians on his breakfast show during the Olympics, and persuaded the Greenwich Tavern to rename itself The Gold and Saddle.

Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, acknowledged that the SPOTY shortlist would disappoint many.

She wrote in her blog: “Team GB notched up an incredible 29 gold medals, with Paralympics GB adding a further 34.

“It was very difficult to leave off Olympians and Paralympians of the calibre of Charlotte Dujardin and triple paralympic gold medallist Sophie Christiansen.

“In any other year these sportspeople would probably be front-runners to win the overall award.”