GREAT BRITAIN dressage star Fiona Bigwood insists she’s intent on still producing the next Olympic champion despite selling Rio silver medallist Atterupgaards Orthilia.
Bigwood, 31, partnered the 12-year-old Gribaldi sired mare, known as ‘Tillie’, as part of the British team for both the 2015 European Championships in Aachen and the 2016 Olympics in Rio, winning team silver at both.
But the dual silver medal equine star moved on to pastures new this week with mum of three Bigwood selling Atterupgaards Orthilia to Danish rider Agnete Kirk Thinggaard.
Bigwood and her husband Anders Dahl have recently located to a new base near Haywards Heath in West Sussex which needs major renovation and development which, alongside being mum to Mette, Morten and Lars, will take much of her time.
However, riding is still very much part of the dressage star’s life and Bigwood has declared she has no plans to retire.
“It was a very hard decision but Tillie is in the prime of her competition career and I want the best for her,” said Bigwood.
“My home commitments mean I can only do around four top-level shows a year and she deserves to have her full potential realised.
“She’s the most talented, generous and clever horse I’ve ever ridden, but I know she’ll have the best home and chance of success with Agnete.
“We waved her off yesterday on her journey to her new home in Denmark.”
Atterupgaards Orthilia has been resonsible for helping Bigwood to two of her three silver medals at major championhips with the rider having also partnered Wie-Atlantico de Ymas as part of the Great Britain team that took dressage team silver at the 2010 World Championships in Kentucky.
“I love training and competing so my career is far from over,” said the rider, who has experienced double vision following a fall in 2014 and wears an eye-patch whilst riding as a result.
“I have some exciting youngsters at home and am currently looking for another so I’m not ready to hang my boots up just yet!
“My priority is my family and home so while I won’t be out competing at the big internationals for a while, I’ll still be busy at home working on producing a future Olympic champion for Britain.”
Jason Brautigam, chief executive of British Dressage commented: “I’m sure everyone in the dressage community will be sad to see Tillie go and break this magic partnership.
“She’s hugely talented and still has great potential for the future, so this is a big loss to Team GBR.
“On behalf of British Dressage, we would like to thank both Fiona and Tillie for their significant contribution to the two team silver medals in 2015 and at last year’s Olympics.
“While this combination will be much missed, Fiona’s stable of exciting youngsters will hopefully mean that she’s back as part of our medal-winning teams in the near future.”
Acting British Equestrian Federation performance director, Sarah Armstrong added: “Fiona and Tillie have been superb members of the British team for the past couple of years and have contributed greatly to the two team silver medals won during this time, at Aachen Europeans in 2015 and at last year’s Olympic Games.
“The relationship that they developed was very special, and I’m sure this decision for Fiona was not taken lightly.
“We have greatly enjoyed watching the duo over the years and Tillie will be greatly missed, but we look forward to still seeing her compete on the international circuit.”