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Olympic medallist makes winning comeback to kick off Tokyo bid

Spencer Wilton and Super Nova II have made a winning comeback on their first competitive appearance since helping Britain win team bronze at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in 2018.

Spencer and “Neville” represented Britain at three consecutive championships from 2016 to 2018, also winning team silver at the Rio Olympics, but Spencer announced in May last year that he would not campaign the De Niro son for the European Championship team in 2019 and would instead focus on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

And the pair made the best possible start to their Olympic campaign, scoring 76.9% in the grand prix at Sparsholt College on Saturday 1 February – Spencer’s birthday.

“It was a very nice birthday present!” laughed the Olympian, who underwent surgery for a ruptured disc in his lower back in June 2019.

“Neville’s 17 this year but feeling really good and, touch wood, I am feeling good too with my back. With team selection for Tokyo being so early this year, we had to get out competing sooner rather than later if we were going to go for it. Neville needed to go out and do a test so I could see how he felt and then plan my internationals for the year around that.

“He felt fantastic! He actually feels more confident and is finding things easier, such as the piaffe, changes and pirouettes,” Spencer told H&H. “He was very lively in the warm-up — there were a couple of moments when I felt like I was sitting on a five-year-old at his first show!

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“I hadn’t even ridden through the grand prix test at home since WEG, but it’s an amazing feeling to get on a horse who knows their job — it’s like putting on an old pair of slippers.”

Spencer now plans to take Neville to the Lier CDI4* in Belgium at the end of February, as well as Compiegne CDIO5* in May and “something else in between”.

“It’s going to be a real battle for a team place, with only three available this year and some really good combinations,” added Spencer. “But this might well be Neville’s last year at this level so we might as well give it a real go. The exciting thing is that whoever ends up on our team, it will be a fantastic team.”

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