Nick Skelton believes his London 2012 horse Big Star is the best he has ridden during a long and successful career.
Skelton will lead Great Britain’s show-jumpers into action at Greenwich Park today for the first of four days’ competition to decide team and individual medals.
The 54-year-old has been installed as gold medal favourite by one leading British bookmaker, which reflects his considerable successes on the world grand prix circuit this year.
Skelton has won 15 major championship medals and is in his sixth Olympics, and given that enormous experience of high-pressure occasions it is no surprise the favourite’s tag does not trouble him.
“I suppose someone has got to be favourite,” said Skelton. “It doesn’t bother me. It won’t make any more pressure than what there already is. The luckiest thing is I am sat on a very, very good horse, and I would rather be favourite than rank outsider.
“To be in London is very special, and for us as a team I think it’s a great advantage to be at home.
“I think this would be my best chance (of Olympic success), I think it is the best horse I’ve ever had. We have got some young horses on the team, but I think possibly we could be a little bit stronger than last year (Britain won two bronze medals at the European Championships). If everything falls in the right place and we have the bit of luck you need, then we can show a good strong hand.”
Britain last won an Olympic show-jumping medal 28 years ago, when the team of Yorkshire trio John Whitaker, Steven Smith, Michael Whitaker and Tim Grubb took silver in Los Angeles.
It is 12 years further back – at Munich in 1972 – that the last individual gong was collected, courtesy of Anne Moore and Psalm.
But the British quartet – Skelton, Ben Maher, Peter Charles and Scott Brash – is a combination capable of mixing it with the likes of Germany, France, Holland, the USA and Switzerland.