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Olympics target for David Doel and Galileo Nieuwmoed after success at Burghley and Badminton

David Doel with Galileo Nieuwmoed - pic:  Joss RidleyDavid Doel with Galileo Nieuwmoed - pic: Joss RidleyDavid Doel’s past two seasons, with his star horse Galileo Nieuwmoed, are the stuff that most event riders can only dream of. A sixth place at his debut Badminton Horse Trials, eighth at Kentucky and runner up at Burghley are the highlights - but for him this is not quite good enough.

“I was so very close to winning that elusive five-star competition as I was 0.7 penalties behind Oliver (Townend) at Burghley. This is the reason why I have been working really hard this winter,” explains 31 year old David.

Any top athlete will appreciate the theory of marginal gains and the difference they can make. For David and his team, the need to achieve sub 30 dressage marks has been the main goal and looking at the different aspects of his training. Last year was great, says David: “We were consistent and a big part of getting on a team is that you can be relied upon. We need to improve the dressage scores.”

Another positive from last year is the invitation to join the world class lottery programme, which brings access to top tier trainers Richard Waygood, Chris Bartle and David Trott, alongside his regular coach of Adam Kemp.

“We have been working on Galileo’s suppleness, trimming him, bringing more strength across his topline, to get more bounce in his dressage.”

The pair will be heading to Oasby this weekend and then the North Holland Horse Trials, working towards the Mars Badminton Horse Trials in May. All of this effort is part of the quest to reach their ultimate goal, selection for the British team at the Paris Olympics.

I wondered why David was making the long journey to Holland and the answer is both the dressage and show jumping are on artificial surfaces. Last year the big early competitions struggled with the weather. The opportunity to ride on surfaces lessons the risks, he explains.

Supporting all of this is Galileo’s owner Gillian Jonas, who he describes as “very passionate and very competitive,” for all her horses.

Over the winter David has found time to go hunting.

“I got sent quite a few horses this winter for schooling. I really enjoy the hunting and it is good for my riding. It brings the fun back into the lives of horses who have maybe lost the love of jumping too.”

He also has to fit in the family business of Lacock Dairy alongside running David Doel Eventing. It is very much a family affair, with wife Charlotte, mum Maggie and dad Tony, who David works with on the ice cream.

“I still do the ice cream and we have a few Easter specials! I am partly my dad’s PA as he is a bit of technophobe! I can work on it in the evening and its good fun, a different outlet for me,” he laughs.

Otherwise, all eyes are on the road to Paris!

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