Riding fans visiting “The Finishing Line”, a photographic exhibition depicting athletes “expected to compete in the 2012 Olympics”, may be surprised by the sole equestrian portrait.
Exhibited alongside gold-medal winning Olympians such as rower Peter Reed, sailor Iain Percy and Commonwealth gold-winning diver Tom Daley, is dressage rider Natalie Allen, 24 — who does not rank as a 2012 contender with H&H.
Natalie is not a member of British Dressage’s World Class start or potential schemes.
Natalie told H&H: “The pictures were taken two years ago. But, no, I don’t expect a call-up for 2012 — my target is 2016.”
She returned to the UK in October after two years’ training with Marcus Gribbe in Germany.
“I was on the BD Start programme for six years before I went to Germany,” said Natalie.
“But at the moment I seem to be doing all right on my own. It was really exciting to be chosen [by the artists] for the exhibition.”
Natalie has three horses, Duke 77 and Domino D, currently competing at grand prix level and Little Rock 35 — her 2016 contender.
A spokesman for BD said: “Given her age, Natalie could well be in line for Rio in 2016.”
H&H wondered why other more obvious equestrian 2012 contenders weren’t chosen.
London-based artist Laura Woolnough, who took the portrait of Natalie, said: “We didn’t want to cherrypick the top riders. We wanted to portray athletes that people know and those who are emerging.
“It would have been easy to just photograph Laura [Bechtolsheimer] but we wanted to say something about the endeavour of aspiring athletes.”
She said they also hope to include a paralympic rider in the exhibition.
“The Finishing Line”, which is the work of Laura Woolnough and Ginny Jory, will be held at St Mary’s Church, Hackney Wick from two weeks before the Olympic Games until the end of the Paralympics — dates still to be confirmed.
This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (28 July, 2011)