Top British horse from 2019 Europeans withdrawn from Tokyo contention

  • One of Britain’s top dressage horses has been ruled out of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics owing to injury.

    Gareth Hughes’ 2019 European Championships team horse, the 15-year-old Trento B mare Classic Briolinca, sustained a strain to a ligament in her front leg at the start of this year. As a result, she has been withdrawn from Olympic team consideration.

    “With that sort of injury they do need a few months off and the timing couldn’t have been worse; she will be back in work just as they trot down the centre line in Tokyo,” Gareth told H&H.

    “For team selection we would have to be out competing this month, and it’s too early for her. She is a little older now, so we will give her plenty of time to recuperate and start thinking about the World Championships in 2022.”

    Gareth and Briolinca were Britain’s top performing combination at the 2019 Europeans, finishing seventh in the grand prix special with 78% and 10th in the freestyle with over 80%. Their last outing was to the Keysoe CDI3* in October 2020, where they scored 78.9% in the special to take second behind Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St John Freestyle.

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    “This is a massive disappointment as Briolinca has been so consistent, and proven herself to be so good,” said Gareth, who owns the mare alongside wife Rebecca and Julia Hornig. “She was absolutely fine all of last year, and we did several of the practice competitions at Hartpury. But it’s sport and it’s horses – these things happen – and at the end of the day my mare is more important to me than anything else. Tokyo is very important of course, but there is life beyond Tokyo.”

    Gareth will head to the new Wellington CDI3* next week to contest the grand prix with the 11-year-old Diamond Hit stallion KK Dominant, and his latest grand prix star, the 11-year-old gelding Sintano Van Hof Olympia, who made a successful international grand prix debut in Opglabbeek, Belgium, last month.

    “Sintano is showing all the ability to be a team horse of the future,” said Gareth. “We’ll quietly give him a chance and see where he ends up in the mix.”

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