Britain’s Top Three Plus Richard Davison Named to Olympic Squad

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Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris, Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro and Carl Hester and Uthopia on Friday were named to Great Britain’s Olympic team with Richard Davison and Artemis as the individual in the host nation’s attempt to win its first ever Olympic medal.

The British Olympic Association confirmed the four dressage athletes and their horses who will compete for Team GB at the Olympics where the dressage competition starts Aug. 2 at Greenwich Park in London.

The athletes selected to Team GB are:

• Laura Bechtolsheimer, 27, of Ampney St. Peter, Gloucestershire riding Mistral Hojris, owned by Dr Wilfried & Mrs Ursula Bechtolsheimer and rider. Mistral Hojris, nicknamed “Alf,” is a 17-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding (Michellino x Virginia x Ibsen) that Laura rode in the 2008 Olympics, the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky and the European Championships in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

• Charlotte Dujardin, 25, of Newent, Gloucestershire riding Valegro, owned by Carl Hester & Roly Luard. Valegro is a 10-year-old KWPN gelding (Negro x Maifleur x Gerschwin). Charlotte and Dujardin have been partners at international Grand Prix since March, 2011, were members of Great Britain’s gold medal team at the 2011 European Championships and created a new Grand Prix Special world record at Horses and Dreams meets Great Britain in Hagen. Germany, in April.

• Carl Hester, 44, of Newent, Gloucestershire riding Uthopia, owned by Carl Hester and Sasha Stewart. Uthopia is an 11-year-old KWPN stallion (Metall x Odelia x Inspekteur). Carl and Uthopia led the Brtish team to gold at the 2011 European championships where the pair also won two individual silver medals.

Selected to compete as an individual:

• Richard Davison, 57, of Combridge, Staffordshire riding Artemis, owned by the Countess of Derby. Artemis is a 13-year-old Westfalen gelding (Florestan x Delphine x Delphi). The pair have competed at international Grand Prix since 2008 and competed at the World Cup Finals in 2011 and 2012.

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

London will be the fourth Olympic Games for Carl Hester and Richard Davison and the second for Laura Bechtolsheimer. She made her Olympic debut at the Beijing Games in 2008. While this will be Charlotte Dujardin’s Olympic debut, she has already made a substantial mark on international dressage with Valegro, posting a world record score at the Grand Prix Special in April this year.

Although Great Britain has never won an Olympic dressage medal, a recent performances indicate this could change dramatically this summer.

The British team won silver at the World Championships in 2010, with Laura Bechtolsheimer and her Olympic mount Mistral Hojris completing a hat-trick of silver medals in the team, individual and freestyle competitions. Laura Bechtolsheimer, Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester were all part of the quartet that won a historic gold medal at the 2011 European Championships, where Carl scooped two individual silver medals and Laura took home a bronze.

All four riders boast records to their names – Dujardin created a new world and British record in the Grand Prix Special at Hagen, Germany with a score of  88.022 per cent, where Laura also bettered her own British Grand Prix Freestyle record, scoring 87.60 per cent. Carl holds the British record in the Grand Prix test of 83.30 pr cent.

European medallist Richard Davison returned to international competition with Artemis in recent years, posting a number of international wins and placings. The combination finished fifth in the 2012 World Cup Final in April.

Carl Hester and Uthopia. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Laura Bechtolsheimer said: “I am really pleased, although it was not a great surprise as I feel we have been on good form. It was nice to have it confirmed and official. We can now start planning as a team which is exciting.

“The three of us in the team event have confidence in each other and we work well together as a team. Although dressage is an individual sport, it is great to know we can be a positive support to one another at the Games.

“It will be so different to Beijing 2008. It is good to have been through the experience before, but I feel a completely different athlete this time, and Alf and I are much more confident and established and have had continued success since then. This time, we will really be able to knuckle down and get on with the job.”

Richard Davison said: “To ride in the Olympics is the greatest honor a rider can ever have and to do it in front of the home crowd in London will be a once-in-a-lifetime privilege. But I’m really happy for Artemis’ owners, sponsors, home team and supporters who have believed in this horse since the beginning and deserve this moment.

“It’ll be just like the old days and be great to back in the team again. I do feel sorry for Laura and Charlotte though, as between Carl and I we’ll raise the average age of the team considerably! If Charlotte’s nickname for Carl is granddad, I’m bound to be christened great granddad!”

Charlotte Dujardin said: “I’m just ecstatic to make the team – it’s a great honor to represent my country and such a huge achievement. It will be my first Olympics and I’m over excited–I just can’t wait!

“It’s amazing to have Carl in the team. We’re the home team, so to be together is great, and we’re stronger together. It will be so amazing to have the home support–I just hope I don’t let anyone down. I’ll just go and try to do my best and if I do perform to my best, the results will come.”

Carl Hester said: “Obviously it’s something that is a dream come true and it is a real ‘dream team’. I think the fact that we went to the Championships last year with such a strong team meant that we got to work together to deliver that result, and we will try and go for a repeat success at London 2012.”

Richard Davison and Hiscox Artemis. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

“They represent an experienced and very strong team, and have a superb opportunity to win Great Britain’s first ever Olympic dressage medal,” said Chef de Mission Andy Hunt.

“All of the riders have experience of winning medals at international competition level, and the progress the dressage team have made recently has been impressive, with the highlight being an historic gold medal at the 2011 European Championships.

“The home advantage and fantastic support the riders will receive from the British public will give them all a lift, and hopefully spur them on to memorable performances at the iconic Greenwich Park venue this summer.”

Equestrian Team Leader Will Connell said, “It’s great to have it confirmed that we head to London with three of the 2011 European team Gold medallists and with Richard Davison as our individual rider.

“This is as exciting a squad as we have ever taken to an Olympic Games. I’m sure the riders will be knuckling down over the next few weeks to ensure they deliver our best performances as there will be other nations with their eyes on the dressage medals.”