London 2012 Olympics watch: Relief for GB as Utopia stays at Hester's stables
Utopia, a ride crucial to Carl Hester’s London 2012 gold medal hopes, has been saved for the nation after surviving the equestrian transfer window.
The four-legged version of football’s window closed on New Year’s Eve, the deadline for a transfer of ownership of horses to be ridden in this year’s Olympics. Hester had an anxious Christmas after the 10-year-old stallion he co-owns was targeted by a Finnish millionaire.
Britain’s individual and team hopes could have been badly hit but a deal was not concluded and Utopia, Hester’s mount when he took individual silver and team gold in last year’s European Championships, remains at his Gloucestershire stables.
Relief: Carl Hester (left) will still be able to ride Utopia
BEKELE ON TRACK WITH $1M
Kenenisa Bekele, double Olympic champion and Mo Farah’s biggest rival for 10,000m gold at London 2012, has invested $1million of his own money in a new ‘soft surface’ track near Addis Ababa to safeguard him from injuries.
The Ethiopian hopes to be training on it by March. Bekele admitted he was short of fitness after finishing 11th in Saturday’s Bupa Edinburgh Great Cross-Country.
SMITH SET TO LEAD THE LINE
Louis Smith captains Britain’s gymnastics team in the all-round competition at the London Prepares test event at the North Greenwich Arena. They must finish in the top four to emulate Britain’s women.
Pressure: Louis Smith leads Britain's gymnastic's team at the test event
The rhythmic group have been set a target of 45.223 points to convince the BOA to accept a host nation place.
ALISTAIR WINS 'BIGGEST RACE'
Triathlon world champion Alistair Brownlee beat younger brother Jonathan into second place in their native Yorkshire cross-country championships.
Jonathan, 21, who won the title last year, tweeted it was the ‘biggest race of the year’. The Brownlees have both qualified for London 2012 and are tipped to win medals.