Top British combination withdraw from Olympic and European contention

  • One of Britain’s top grand prix riders, Sonnar Murray-Brown, has withdrawn his Tokyo prospect Erlentanz from team contention this year, describing the situation as “devastating”.

    The pair were campaigning for a place on the Tokyo Olympic team, but a minor injury has ruled them out of competition for the remainder of the 2021 season, including September’s European Championships in Hagen, Germany.

    “Our scores haven’t been at the level we are capable of this year, and at Wellington CDI in May ‘Erly’ didn’t feel himself in the arena. We took the time to check him out, and we are now treating a minor injury,” said Sonnar, who finished ninth in the grand prix at Wellington, and fifth in the grand prix special with 73.44%.

    “I want to give him all the time that he needs, so we will give him the rest of the year to get better,” Sonnar confirmed to H&H. “I don’t want to rush him by trying to bring him back for the Europeans.”

    Sonnar’s career and journey with the 14-year-old Latimer gelding, whom he bought as a six-year-old, has already encountered a number of challenges. Having fought back from a devastating car accident that left him with two broken legs and little hope of riding again, Sonnar then broke a leg in a fall in early 2019, which put him out of action for the remainder of that year, which was to be the pair’s first full season at grand prix. Charlotte Dujardin took over the ride on the supremely talented gelding, clocking up international wins with him at Windsor and Bolesworth, and finishing third in the grand prix special at Aachen CDIO5* with over 80%.

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    Sonnar took back the reins in early 2020, and despite the challenges of the pandemic, produced consistent scores in the mid-70s, and placings at international level, including winning the grand prix at Le Mans CDI3* in February 2020. The pair finished fourth at the Grand Prix National Championships in December 2020, behind Charlotte and Carl Hester.

    “This is gutting – I was really hoping to be on my first championship team, or Nations Cup team; that was my aim,” said Sonnar. “But it is just not meant to be for me this year. I have loved being involved in the preparation and build-up to Tokyo, and I’ve learned a lot. Erly is such an amazing horse, and he is still young enough to go again next year.

    “In the meantime I’ll work hard with my younger horses, training them up towards grand prix. It’s not easy, but I really enjoy the training process.”

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