What events will Britain’s Tokyo eventing gold medallists target before Paris?

  • Oliver Townend and Laura Collett both plan to take a similar competition route as they followed in 2021 before they won team gold at the Tokyo Olympics, as they aim for selection for Paris 2024.

    Laura and the 2022 Badminton Horse Trials winner London 52 will not do a five-star this spring, instead showing their form at four-star shorts. Depending on the weather, Laura hopes to go to Thoresby (28-31 March), possibly Burnham Market (12-14 April), Bicton (23-26 May) and then Luhmühlen Horse Trials (13-16 June), where the pair won the five-star last year.

    “We were forced to do four-star shorts the year of Tokyo and it worked out well,” said Laura, who won a section at Aston-le-Walls in May in 2021 and was fourth at Bicton in June.

    Luhmühlen, in Germany, will be a particularly good imitation of the conditions in Paris because the dressage and showjumping phases are on a surface, rather than grass.

    Laura and 15-year-old London 52, who belongs to his rider, Keith Scott and Karen Bartlett, won an open intermediate (OI) at the season opener at Poplar Park on Saturday (2 March).

    Oliver and Ballaghmor Class won Kentucky Three-Day Event in April 2021 and the world number one again intends to take the grey to a five-star this spring, with Badminton (8-12 May) being “plan A”.

    The pair also won an OI at Poplar on Saturday and Oliver said the 17-year-old, who belongs to Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan, has “never felt better”.

    “I don’t know whether it’s possible, but he still feels like he’s improving flatwork-wise and he’s the most reliable horse in the world in the jumping phases,” Oliver said of the three-time five-star winner. “I’m very conscious of wanting to finish his career the right way, but to me he feels a long way off the inevitable. He was mad fresh at Poplar and couldn’t take his eyes off the cross-country.”

    Oliver doubled down on OI victories at Poplar with a win on the Ridgeons’ 10-year-old Cooley Rosalent, who was third at Maryland 5 Star last year and who he hopes to take to Kentucky (25-28 April).

    Read more about Poplar Park in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine (dated 7 March). 

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