So the Rio Olympics is drawing closer and the Team GB athletes have been announced.
Representing Great Britain in the Show Jumping is Ben Maher MBE (Tic Tac), Nick Skelton OBE (Big Star), John Whitajer MBE (Ornellaia) and Michael Whitaker (Cassionato). 20 year old Jessica Mendoza is travelling reserve with Spirit T. Ben, who will be riding in his 3rdOlympics is joined by a combined age of 174 years with a total 18 Olympics under their belt. It’s certainly a very strong team.
The Eventing team is made of 3 Olympic first-timers with Kitty King (Ceylor L A N), Gemma Tattersall (Quicklook V) and Izzy Taylor (Allercombe Ellie) being joined by the master of Eventing, William Fox-Pitt.
William tells us “They’re three very exciting riders, they may be called first-timers but they’re not in my mind, they’re all been tapping on the door and have been Eventing for years. I can’t believe it’s only their first Olympics but it shows how young they all are [they're all under 33]!”
After his fall and brain injury at the end of 2015, William has had two outstanding performances at Bramham and Tattersalls amongst other runs to secure his spot with Chilli Morning, the gorgeous chestnut Stallion whom William has partnered for many years.
“He’s getting on a little now, so I’m thrilled he’s been picked. After Badminton 2015, I didn’t run him again as I didn’t see the point. We then ran at Weston Park in April which was our first run back after the injury.”
William then chose to withdraw from Badminton, stating he didn’t quite feel ready. It’s great to see him back in full competition and heading to Rio after such a severe accident.
The British Dressage team is made up of Fiona Bigwood (Atterupgaards Orthilia), Carl Hester MBE (Nip Tuck), Charlotte Dujardin OBE (Valegro) and Spencer Wilton (Super Nova). Trained by Laura Tomlinson, 27 year old Lara Griffith is travelling reserve, her first Olympics.
We spoke to Fiona Bigwood, an Olympic first-timer who has represented GB at many other Championships “I'm so excited to be heading to Rio! It’s such a strong team! Orthilia is a fab mare, she was on the market for ages, no one wanted to buy her! Yet I saw the potential and so thrilled I went for it!”
“She’s a really special horse, I really feel that she and I have a super bond,” Fiona tells us.
When asked of the British Dressage Team preparations, Fiona tells us “We’re all competing at Hartpury Festival of Dressage this weekend, it’s our last dress rehearsal! Then we’ll continue training as normal, ensuring fitness levels remain. The horses then go out a few days before allowing them to acclimatise. Although they don’t get jetlag, which is good!”
Unfortunately Animalife sponsored rider Gareth Hughes had to withdraw his long-listed ride Briolinca due to injury.
We wish all Team GB the very best of luck and can’t wait to watch!