There were always three clear contenders for dressage team places at the Rio Olympics, but the battle for the fourth spot has been bubbling for many months and was a closely-fought contest.
H&H can now reveal the dressage riders and horses who have been chosen to represent Britain in Brazil next month. They are:
Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro — a 14-year-old KWPN gelding by Negro owned by Carl Hester, Roly Luard and Anne Barott
Charlotte and Valegro have been the lynchpins for the British team since their first championship appearance at the Europeans in Rotterdam in 2011. The pair have not competed since the European championships in Aachen in August of last year, where they won all three tests. They are unbeaten in their last 15 consecutive starts. Their next outing is at Hartpury Festival of Dressage, which takes place this week.
Carl Hester and Nip Tuck — a 12-year-old KWPN gelding by Don Ruto owned by the rider and Jane de la Mare
Carl, who turned 49 last week, has nurtured the huge gelding, known at home as Barney, throughout his career. Although he used to be very sharp, that sensitivity has worked in his favour for the higher level movements and he has become a very reliable grand prix performer. He proved this in the spooky arena at Bolesworth International last month.
Fiona Bigwood and Orthilia — an 11-year-old Oldenburg mare by Gribaldi owned by the Bigwoods and the Dahls
Stellar results over the Olympic qualifying period put this pair firmly in the frame for Rio. Sussex-based Fiona rides with a patch over her eye to mitigate the double vision she now suffers as the result of a fall in April 2014.
Spencer Wilton and Super Nova II — a 13-year-old British Hanoverian by De Niro owned by the rider and Jen Goodman
This pair have attended three shows this year and scored over 70% at least once at every one. Their 2016 high water mark came in the form of two plus-73% wins at Lier CDI in March, though they did top 74% in the grand prix special in 2015. “Neville” is a former ride of Carl Hester’s whom Spencer has been competing since early 2012. The pair were grand prix winners with over 72% at both Somerford Park and Keysoe Premier League shows this season.
The travelling reserve is: Lara Griffith and Rubin Al Asad — a 14-year-old Hannoverian by Rubin Royal owned by Dr Wilfried and Mrs Ursula Bechtolsheimer
This pair have an average score of 70.64% in the 10 grand prix and grand prix special tests contested in 2016 — including half a dozen tests in Wellington, Florida, at the beginning of the year.
Find out who made the other British Olympic equestrian teams:
Don’t miss H&H’s Olympic preview issue (28 July) or our form guide (4 August), with details of every runner and rider, plus score cards to fill in. Our Rio eventing report is published on 12 August — the magazine will come out on Friday rather than Thursday that week to tie in with Olympic competition schedules.