Inspired Wilson fixes one eye on Rio as she rounds off another successful year

Nicola Wilson on Annie Clover
Nicola Wilson on Annie Clover
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MORE than 16 months have passed since Northallerton’s Nicola Wilson enjoyed her finest moment in her eventing career at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

But more importantly there are now only 32 months to what Wilson hopes will be a repeat showing in Rio.

Wilson, 37, has come to the end of another year of top-class eventing.

However, whereas the remainder of 2012 was spent largely reflecting on London glories, 2013 has concerned building bridges for the future.

Wilson remains deeply proud of her 2012 Olympics team eventing silver on board Opposition Buzz – who, aged 16 – remains at the peak of his powers.

Yet Wilson is not about to rest on her laurels and even now admits the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are at the forefront of her mind.

Annie Clover, Beltane Queen and Watermill Vision head Wilson’s potential stars of the future and the Northallerton rider admits another Olympic outing is very much the aim.

“I think the Olympics, as well as inspiring a generation, have inspired me equally, really,” Wilson admitted to the Yorkshire Post.

“Since the Olympics I have some fantastic younger horses coming through and it’s given me that extra confidence and inspired me to do better and work even harder if that’s possible.

“I hope that we have got the horses and the owners and the support team to drive on to the next Olympics.

“That is very high up there on my aims and goals – and to continue to do well and to better myself and my horses along the way really.

“It’s always incredibly difficult to get on the GB team and it’s all about results and consistency.

“But we’ve started well the first year after the Olympics with some good results for the younger horses. By the time they have got a few more years of experience and exposure, hopefully they will be in with a shout of being selected.

“I’m in a lucky position to have a few that I hope will be good enough, so we will just keep our fingers crossed and see what happens.

“We’ve just got to keep our heads down and keep working away and hope that things fall into place and that we have a little bit of luck along the way as well.”

Luck cannot be guaranteed but class can from flag-bearer Opposition Buzz.

Wilson says her London 2012 hero will be back in the thick of it next year with all roads leading to Badminton in May.

Wilson beamed: “He’s been at the top level of sport for seven years now and he‘s still – at the age of 16 – getting stronger and stronger in the dressage.

“It’s so lovely that he still lives for the sport and loves it as much as he does.

“The plan is to compete next year and, hopefully, at Badminton which will be very exciting.

“He’s showing no signs of hanging up his shoes yet anyway.”

Comparatively speaking, the likes of 11-year-old Watermill Vision plus nine-year-olds Annie Clover and Beltane Queen are spring chickens and Wilson anticipates big futures with rising star Beltane Queen also Yorkshire-owned and bred.

Valerie and Anne Robson’s star was recently named Best Yorkshire-bred Sport Horse and Wilson added: “She shows a lot of promise and potential and she only started the season at Intermediate level.

“For her to step up this year and be pretty much placed in all of her CIC and CCI three stars is really exciting and I’m thrilled for her.

“She’s a lovely horse for the future.”

That future certainly looks bright for Wilson, who hopes to have many years of top-class eventing ahead of her. And that would mean more success for Yorkshire with Wilson and property developer husband Alastair perfectly settled in Northallerton. Deeply proud of what the White Rose county has to offer her, Wilson says she has no intentions to ever settle anywhere else.

“I feel very much at home here and obviously I am very happily married to my husband Alastair and this is where our businesses are,” she said.

“I’ve never really thought about moving anywhere else really. We’ve got a lot of lovely friends, supporters, owners and sponsors in Yorkshire and Yorkshire is very important to Alastair and I.

“It’s a shame when you have to travel quite so far but you do get used to jumping in the driving seat and knowing that you have got many hours of driving to get to your competition. But it’s always lovely to get home and lovely to drive back into Yorkshire.”

Not that there will be any requirement to make any long journeys this Festive season with Wilson and her husband again looking forward to another Christmas Day lunch at home.

Last year provided Wilson and her other half’s first attempt at cooking the big day feast themselves and after learning the ropes in 2012, the Northallerton ace is hoping to step her culinary efforts up a notch one year on.

Wilson laughed: “We had a good practice last year and we will try and improve again!”

New world record caps memorable spell for Britain’s Dujardin

OYLYMPIC and European champion Charlotte Dujardin admitted it was a case of mission accomplished after ending 2013 by claiming her third dressage world record at Olympia this week.

Dujardin completed a clean sweep of world bests by producing a staggering performance at the London International Horse Show on Tuesday. British star Dujardin and her London 2012 wonder-horse Valegro won the Reem Acra FEI World Cup freestyle class, setting a new world best of 93.975 per cent.

It beat the previous record of 92.3 per cent posted by Dutch rider Edward Gal and the brilliant black stallion Totilas in the same event four years ago.

And it means 28-year-old Dujardin, who is based in Gloucestershire, is now world leader at freestyle, grand prix and grand prix special on the same horse on which she won Olympic gold last year and European gold four months ago.

“It was just unbelievable,” she said. “All year I have wanted to get that world record.

“It has always been on my mind, and to finally think I have done it.”

In front of her home crowd, London-born Dujardin produced a blistering farewell performance of her London 2012 music - a routine highlighted by strains of Land of Hope and Glory and evocative Big Ben chimes - before next year’s World Equestrian Games will herald a new musical odyssey for dressage’s golden partnership.

“I am delighted that I have finished (performing) this music exactly how I wanted to finish,” she added.

“That music deserved a world record.

“I’ve done things that I never dreamt of doing.

“It is just getting better and better.”

Dujardin won just under 11,000 euros for landing the World Cup qualifier, but it paled in comparison with the feat of rewriting the record books.

Gal, who now rides Glock’s Undercover, finished second, more than six percentage points behind world number one Dujardin, with Holland’s Danielle Heijkoop third and British European team bronze medallist Michael Eilberg fourth aboard Half Moon Delphi.

Dujardin’s latest victory on Valegro means they are unbeaten in international competition for 20 months.