British Dressage celebrates ‘phenomenal’ year for sport

  • British Dressage (BD) has celebrated a “phenomenal” year for the sport.

    From Rio to Olympia, dressage has dominated headlines of both equestrian and mainstream media.

    The popularity of the sport was also demonstrated by the success of para dressage rider Sophie Christiansen in her Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) award nomination.

    “We’re really delighted to see how much interest it’s generated,” BD’s Jason Brautigam told H&H.

    Team GBR’s medal haul

    At the Rio Olympic Games this summer, Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester, Spencer Wilton and Fiona Bigwood secured team silver for Great Britain.

    Charlotte and Valegro went on to win individual gold with a massive 93.857%.

    Britain also came out on top in the Paralympics with the team recording their most successful Games to date, accruing seven gold medals and a total medal haul of 11.

    - Team Victory Ceremony – Rio 2016 Paralympic Games – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 16 September 2016

    – Team Victory Ceremony – Rio 2016 Paralympic Games – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 16 September 2016

    Dressage was once again brought into the spotlight during Olympia (12-18 December), where superstar Valegro was officially retired from competition.

    The same week, eight-time Paralympic gold medallist Sophie finished fifth in the BBC’s SPOTY award.

    Sophie was just two places behind Rio showjumping hero Nick Skelton and ahead of 11 other top athletes, including cyclists Laura and Jason Kenny.

    “It was phenomenal to see Sophie in the line-up of 16 superb top class athletes,” Mr Brautigam said.

    “She finished above both cyclists and two footballers. It shows just how far dressage has come. For Sophie it was deserved recognition of everything she has achieved.

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    “[Nick and Sophie’s SPOTY result] is testament to how popular equestrian is and how dedicated and loyal the horse community is.

    “Last week Olympia brought dressage in the spotlight again with Valegro’s retirement. It was a fantastic week of action with Carl [Hester] winning too.”

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