Nick Skelton GBR riding Big Star Individual Gold medalists Rio Photo Arnd Bronkhorst

Riding the brilliant KWPN stallion Big Star (Quick Star - Jolanda x Nimmerdor), Britain’s Nick Skelton won individual Olympic gold in Rio 2016 four years after winning team gold in London 2012. It was a seventh Olympic appearance for Skelton (58) starting in Seoul 1988, and a remarkable achievement for a rider who broke his neck in a serious fall in 2000 and was advised to retire from the sport on his doctor’s advice. However, he returned to competition in 2002 and has been a member of Great Britain’s Olympic team ever since. Skelton began riding the 13-year-old Big Star in 2010 with numerous Grand Prix wins to their credit, but the stallion was sidelined due to injury in 2014 (a torn lower suspensory ligament), and didn’t return to top-level competition until October 2015. At the time, Skelton said “He’s only 12. I’m just going easy with him, to take it day by day” in the hope that Big Star would be fit enough to be considered for Olympic selection.

Bred by Cees Klaver, Big Star has so far only been used as a breeding stallion on a limited basis, but has now proved that he is one of the world’s best performance stallions. Today was a magical victory, in more ways than one.