Britain’s young riders headed back in jubilant mood from the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) this week after picking up five medals.
The dressage team — made up of 19-year-olds Charlie Hutton, Jessica Dunn and Emily Cousins — came away with a haul of medals, taking team gold plus individual silver (Charlie Hutton) and individual bronze (Jessica Dunn).
Dressage team GBR won team gold on 62.778%, edging out host nation Australia (62.556%) by less than a quarter of a point. In third was New Zealand.
Usually in international competition riders will bring their own horses, but AYOF’s rules state competitions must ride locally sourced horses — so the teams had just a couple of days to bond with their new partners.
Charlie on AEA Julius was the last to ride and clinched gold for the team with an individual score of 61.278%. He then went on to win individual silver, scoring 64.575%.
“The horse had a fantastic temperament and was a joy to work with,” said Charlie.
“We are a really strong team that has been working together for the last three years and that showed. We all know how to get the best out of each other.”
And despite not having the ideal start when one of their best horses was found unsound and had to be substituted before competition, the British show jumping team — made up of William Whitaker, Louise Saywell, Daniel Neilson and Matthew Sampson — put in a solid performance to take team bronze. Matthew also took individual bronze.
“I am thrilled for all the riders and team staff,” said World Class Performance director Will Connell. “This demonstrates that we have the riders and coaches with the talent and drive to win.
“They are the envy of other nations, giving us great prospects for the future.”
Equestrianism was included for the first time in the 2009 event, which ran from 14-18 January.
In total over 1,600 athletes from 25 nations — including more than 100 from Britain — took part in the biennial festival, which was set up by the Australian Olympic Committee as part of the legacy of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.