Britain eyes more equestrian glory
August 1, 2012 17:50 pm
Great Britain's dressage riders will begin their quest for a team gold medal at Greenwich Park on Thursday - and British Olympic history awaits them if they make it mission accomplished.
The prospect of Britain being even considered as dressage medal candidates at previous Olympic Games was fanciful in the extreme, but Carl Hester, Charlotte Dujardin and Laura Bechtolsheimer have rewritten the world dressage form guide during the past 18 months.
Hester, who rides Uthopia, is first into the Greenwich Park main arena on Thursday morning. Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris go in the afternoon, with Dujardin and Valegro on Friday afternoon.
Scores from the two-day grand prix will be carried into next Tuesday's grand prix special for the top seven teams, with scores from both competitions added together to produce the medallists.
The best individual competitors, which should include the British team trio, then go into next Thursday's freestyle to music final, which decides individual medals.
Britain will be represented by the three-strong team, plus consistent and vastly-experienced individual rider Richard Davison, and they have arrived in London as European team champions, while Dujardin earlier this year broke the grand prix special world record.
In terms of Olympic medals, Britain has never previously won a dressage gong, but double gold is not beyond them and they could become one of the London Games' great stories.
"To have a team that is so capable is uplifting," 45-year-old, four-time Olympian Hester said. "I am dead excited about it, and if this really works then I can probably stop afterwards!
"Until you get what you really want out of your life and your sport, then you have got to keep going. There are two world and European individual medallists on the team, plus a world record breaker, and that is pretty smart.
"When I saw Laura get to her peak a few years ago, I said to Charlotte (who trains with Hester at his Gloucestershire yard) that I was not going to sit at home and just let things go by. Laura needed help and support if the team was ever going to come up through the standings. You can't do it on your own."
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