The British Equestrian Federation World Class Programme and British Dressage have appointed Michel Assouline as the new World Class coach for the Paralympic dressage team.

Assouline, who was born in France, studied at the Ecole Nationale d’Equitation and Military Cavalry School in Saumur before becoming a professional rider and trainer. His career took him to America, Germany and Britain, where he settled in 1993.

Long-listed for the Seoul Olympics in 1988, Assouline competed on the international circuit for several years. In 2000, he won the Ardingly Premier League grand prix, the French National Championships and the grand prix kür at the Saumur *** CDI with his late horse Annastasia.

Although he never gave up riding, Assouline turned his focus towards training and won the Best UK Dressage Trainer of the Year award in 1995. He coached riders across Europe, and was resident trainer to former European Gold Medal Young Rider Team Champion, Suzanne Lebek, for three years.

He will now manage the training schedules and develop the programmes for the Paralympic dressage riders and their horses as they prepare for the World Championships and the Beijing Paralympics.

“I have been working with the World Class Start rider Emma Kent for the last few months and it has given me a taste of how enjoyable coaching Paralympic dressage riders can be. I felt very privileged to be considered for this role,” says Assouline.

“It will be a great challenge to help to continue the level of success that the paralympic dressage riders have achieved so far. I will be working with the riders’ own trainers, giving them the back up they need, and I am looking forward to developing more horsepower and new riders to help ensure the team’s success at the Beijing Games and beyond.”

Assouline replaces Jane Goldsmith, who has been coaching the Paralympic team for the last eight years and has been instrumental to their gold medal success. Goldsmith, who moves on to become Chairman of Selectors, will be “a hard act to follow,” according to performance manager David Hunter, who belives the French trainer is the right man for the challenge. “In Michel we have a coach with the experience and skills necessary to take our riders to an even higher standard,” says Hunter. “I really look forward to working with him.”