Event horse owner Barbara Cassani has been named as the leader of London’s bid for the 2012 Olympics.

Barbara, (pictured right) who is American by birth but is based in the UK with her British husband, Guy Lewis, is joint-owner of three event horses.

Her best-known horse is Rongotai, who ran at Badminton this year with Nick Turner and was 14th at Burghley in 2002 when ridden by Blyth Tait.

Six years ago, Barbara launched the cut-price airline Go for her then employer British Airways, before leading a management buyout in 2001. She netted almost £10m when the company was sold to rival EasyJet a year later.

The sale left the 42-year-oldwithout a job, but freed her to become one of the front-runners to head Britain’s Olympic challenge, despite her nationality.

“I’ve taken this job because I know we can win,” says Cassani. “London is a world-class city and we can deliver a world-class Games.”

Cassani’s £200,000-a-year appointment will be seen as a further boost for Britain’s claims to be able to deliver the best equestrian competition in the Olympic bid race, if nothing else.

This will not be lost on the British Equestrian Federation, one of more than 30 sporting bodies due to meet sports minister Richard Caborn and secretary of state Tessa Jowell on 14 July to discuss government policy on sport in the light of the Olympic bid.

The formation of a working group to develop the equestrian elements of the bid will follow this meeting.

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