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Olympic blog: British brilliance

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Firstly, huge congratulations to Britain’s Olympic gold medal-winning showjumping and dressage teams.

Watching the showjumping on television in the office yesterday was thrilling. I certainly didn’t go into the Games thinking our quartet would be gold medallists – any medal would have been a huge result.

I was fortunate to be at Greenwich today to see the dressage victory, so I’ll always be able to say I saw “history in the making” with Britain’s first ever Olympic dressage medal – and what a medal it was.

My viewing of top-class dressage is sporadic, limited to the odd World Cup qualifier on FEI TV, trips to Olympia and plenty of watching when I went to the World Equestrian Games two years ago. But over time, I feel I’ve seen a pleasing change in the horses and their overall way of going.

As an eventer, I’ve always favoured the lighter, more elastic horses (is it sacrilege to say I’ve long preferred Parzival to Totilas?). And now I believe we see more of this type and more horses trained to produce such work, with increased impulsion and athleticism, and fewer horses who look heavy and laboured.

Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin‘s horses were the picture of harmonious training today – and how nice to see Uthopia trotting round on an almost loose rein in the prize-giving.

I hope Laura Bechtolsheimer does not get lost in the brilliance of this pair in the press coverage – she and Mistral Hojris provided a high score too and hauled Britain’s teams to medals at the Windsor Europeans in 2009 and the 2010 World Equestrian Games when Uthopia and Valegro were still building up to grand prix.

On a final note, as eventing editor I’ve long been accustomed to being the “Olympic section editor” at H&H with the most success in terms of Brits at championships, but it seems I’ve truly lost my bragging rights this time.

Pippa

PS. before anyone tells me off for not appreciating our team silver, I’m still extremely proud of our eventers.

Full reports on the team showjumping and dressage competitions in H&H out this FRIDAY, 10 August.