British showjumper Nick Skelton is apparently 6/1 favourite to win individual gold at the London 2012 Olympics – and, as he said, “Someone has to be favourite.”
The Olympic jumping competition at Greenwich starts on Saturday, and the British team is feeling fairly positive.
Asked to predict which team will reign supreme in London, Chef d’Equipe Rob Hoekstra said: “there are eight or nine teams that could win this, the US and Canadians are not in the Top League but they could do well, the Germans, the French, the Dutch are all strong. Depending on who’s in form on the day we could have a different result over five different days.”
Skelton said his horse, Big Star, has been great all season, but doesn’t have high-level experience. “He unproven at this level but he’s done everything right. He has tremendous ability and would have more in the tank than Carlo,” the horse on whom won individual bronze at the FEI European Championships in Madrid last year.
“Also, I don’t think he will do anything untoward, he’s a very easy horse, although I’m not saying anything against Carlo, I just think this horse has a bit extra to offer.”
Assessing British team chances he pointed out “we have some young horses, but look at last year in Madrid, possibly this team could be stronger than that. If everything falls into the right place we can show a good, strong hand here. To be in London is very special for us and it gives the team an advantage to be at home. To be honest this is probably my best chance I’ve ever had (of winning an Olympic medal),” he said.
Team member Scott Brash’s preparation had started in Florida, “I did a few Super Leagues (Nations Cup competitions) and it’s all gone well since we arrived here so I’m looking forward to it.”
Peter Charles said he wouldn’t have missed the Opening Ceremony for the world. “It was such an experience. Everyone has been so helpful and nothing has been too much trouble for people here. And it’s unique to be in our home town here in London. It will never be the same again”.
Ben Maher said the venue is just 30 minutes from his house so it feels like being at home. “Tripple X has matured hugely since Madrid where he showed championship form and then did great at Olympia and won the Global Champions Tour at Valencia. He’s a stallion so he can be temperamental but he’s in good form and I’ve produced him specially for this moment in time.”