Hester enjoys being favourite
July 30, 2012 13:19 pm
Carl Hester is relishing Great Britain's status as favourites for the Olympic team dressage title.
The British team of Hester, Charlotte Dujardin and Laura Bechtolsheimer, who are joined by individual competitor Richard Davison, will launch their medal campaign on Thursday.
Team and individual medals are at stake, culminating in next week's freestyle final, and it is conceivable Britain could land double gold. Given that British dressage has never before secured an Olympic podium finish, it represents a staggering transformation.
"This is my fourth Games," Hester said at a press conference in Greenwich Park. "And I have been wishing the days away, really, before coming here. I've been in previous Olympics when we were expected to compete and just be part of the numbers. To actually do it this way around is, of course, so much more exciting."
Hester, Bechtolsheimer and Dujardin starred when Britain won its first European title in Rotterdam last summer, and subsequent performances have continued to shake the foundations of world dressage.
Dujardin, who trains with Hester, only made her grand prix debut early last year but she now holds the grand prix special world record and earlier this month became the first British rider to score more than 90 per cent for a freestyle test.
That breathtaking display was with her Olympic freestyle routine, while Bechtolsheimer has several world and European medals in her collection with the experienced Mistral Hojris.
"These riders have achieved so much over the last few years," Britain's equestrian team leader Will Connell said. "Let's not mess around here, there is expectation on the dressage team this year.
"I think it will be the closest Olympic Games we have seen across all three equestrian disciplines. The teams that win here will win because they've kept their heads straight and used their experience.
"You would be hard-pressed to find a more experienced team at delivering under pressure, so that is an advantage for us. We can't afford one slip-up, and everyone knows that. We have very experienced riders, and they've delivered under pressure before."
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