Alliston has one eye on London

17 April 2012 / 15:54

British eventer James Alliston will head to next week's Rolex Kentucky four-star season-opener as a proverbial dark horse for London 2012.

The California-based Oxford graduate, whose parents live a short gallop away from the Princess Royal's Gatcombe Estate in Gloucestershire, has made those who matter on Great Britain's Olympic selection front sit up and take notice.

Few eventing followers in the United Kingdom will probably have heard of 27-year-old Alliston, but that could be about to change.

World number one Willian Fox-Pitt, five-time Olympian Mary King, last year's Badminton runner-up Piggy French and the brilliant cross-country exponent Nicola Wilson are widely expected to fill four British team places at Greenwich Park this summer.

The fifth and final spot, though, is thought to be wide open.

Pippa Funnell is no longer in contention after two of her horses suffered injuries, with the popular theory suggesting a choice between Tina Cook, Oliver Townend, Laura Collett and an on-form Sarah Cohen but Alliston, who hopes to shine in Kentucky, where the opposition will include Fox-Pitt and Townend, is known to have his admirers.

While Alliston describes himself as "a long shot" for London, his consistency on the American circuit has not gone unnoticed.

He has won the last two three-star events he has competed in, and he will arrive in Kentucky after a three-day road journey from California's Castro Valley among the favourites for top spot.

"I am a little bit off the radar, a little bit of a long shot, I think, but I want to do international events where people are watching me," Alliston said. "Ian Stark (former Badminton champion and Olympic medallist) course designs at Galway on the West Coast here, so I see Ian quite a bit, and I spoke with Yogi Breisner (British eventing performance chief) at Kentucky last year.

"I know there is a lot of strength in depth over in the United Kingdom, so I will just do the best I can. I am happy here right now. Things are going well, and hopefully I can continue doing well and be considered for Great Britain."