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Collett's Rayef gets Olympic call
LAURA Collett’s star companion Rayef has been nominated as one of Team GB’s 15 horses for the London Olympics this summer, the Membury rider has announced.
Although Collett did not make the five-strong national squad for the Games, with William Fox-Pitt, Piggy French, Zara Phillips, Mary King and Kristina Cook getting the nod ahead of her, she still has an outside chance of making the event in the capital as a reserve after she revealed on her website that Rayef has been included in the provisional list for the event in the capital.
Collett herself seemed destined to make a stunning charge to Olympic selection last year when, alongside Rayef, she sprung to prominence in her sport.
The duo claimed an eighth-placed finish in their first ever Badminton Horse Trials and third at Barbury before being included in the GB team for the European Championships at Luhmuhlen, only for Rayef to suffer from a blood disorder which affected his performance.
A downturn in form was made worse by the inclement recent weather, which forced several event cancellations, and Collett slipped away from contention.
However, the pair took sixth spot in the CIC*** at Bramham over the weekend and will now go to Aachen in July as the selectors ponder over their options before making the final decision over the order of the reserves for London 2012.
Collett wrote on her website: “Very excited to hear the news that Rayef is one of the 15 horses nominated for Team GB for the Olympic Games.
“The team of William, Mary, Tina, Zara, Piggy has been chosen - but selectors are waiting to name the order of reserves horses until a later date.
“Rayef has been invited to compete at Aachen CIC*** in July so that will be his aim instead of Barbury CIC***.”
Meanwhile, the 22-year-old admitted she has endured a difficult 12 months.
“It’s been a really tough year,” she said.
“We lost a bit of form and that happens with horses, but it was great to get a bit of form back at Bramham.
“It’s been a fantastic experience to be involved with the team, it’s been amazing and I can only take positive experiences out of it. We can keep looking forward now.”
Collett was delighted by the efforts of her two star horses at Bramham, where Noble Bestman took second spot in the CCI*** Under 25 section to go with Rayef’s fine display in the CIC***.
“Both went really well, it was a really good weekend,” she said.
“He (Noble Bestman) is a real star. He will never be as naturally talented as Rayef but he works really hard and he did really well.”
So far the area’s Olympic hopes rest with the likes of rowers Steve Rowbotham and Pete Reed, swimmer Hannah Miley and rhythmic gymnast Jade Faulkner.
However, a handful of other Wiltshire sports stars are yet to book their place for London 2012 and you can find out who’s going and who’s not in Saturday’s London Calling Olympic column.