Brash ready to build on gold
Olympic showjumping gold medallist Scott Brash is targeting next year's European Championships and World Cup final after the "dream" outcome of London 2012.
Brash will be a star attraction at this week's Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham, where he can expect to be lauded by British fans following a spectacular Olympic title triumph eight weeks ago.
The 26-year-old Scotsman was quickly back in the saddle after Greenwich Park, competing on continental Europe and in Canada, with opening World Cup series events at Oslo and Helsinki on his agenda later this month aboard Olympic ride Hello Sanctos.
These are heady times for the Peebles-based rider, although he appears to be handling it all with little difficulty.
"It's back to reality now - you don't have much time to rest in this sport," said Brash, who takes Intertoy Z, Bon Ami and Sebastian to Birmingham.
"London was a dream. It just fills you with so many good memories that will last forever."
Hello Sanctos was bought for Brash by loyal British showjumping supporters Lady Harris and Lady Kirkham, and less than eight months after he first tried the horse in Germany the combination helped Britain to a first Olympic team gold for 60 years alongside Nick Skelton, Ben Maher and Peter Charles.
"My horse just grew into the atmosphere," Brash told Press Association Sport.
"I wasn't 100 per cent sure how well he would cope with it, but he did it fantastically well. I have some fantastic owners that are going to continue to back me, and with them behind me then I think the future is bright.
"The horse has been an absolute legend for me - he has fulfilled it all."
Brash, who is less than half Skelton's age, looks set to be a major force in British and international showjumping for years to come, and he is already planning for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
"Rio has definitely crossed my mind, and we are looking for a top six- or seven-year-old horse that we can produce towards the Rio Games," Brash added.
"The horse would then be the right age for Rio, about 10 or 11 by then, but they are hard to find.
"Sanctos would be in the frame, although he will be 14 then, but as long nothing goes wrong in his career and he doesn't get any injuries, then he could be there.
"In an ideal world, 10 or 11-years-old is spot-on for an Olympic Games, although some horses are still doing it at 15 or 16, so it's definitely not out of the question for Sanctos."
Next summer's European Championships in Denmark are the prime 2013 objective for Brash, while he starts out on the long World Cup series in Oslo next week that culminates with the Gothenburg final just over six months from now, for which he aims to qualify.
He has already achieved more than most professional riders manage in their careers - Olympic team gold and fifth individually - after the London success story proved a triumph of meticulous planning and stunning execution.
And at the heart of it all was 54-year-old Skelton and his brilliant stallion Big Star, a combination that spearheaded Britain's medal assault.
"Nick is sitting on the best horse in the world, that is beyond a shadow of doubt. Big Star is an absolute freak, an unbelievable horse," Brash said.
"We knew at the start of the year that we needed to get a team together to back up Big Star, which we knew could go to the Olympic Games and deliver for us.
"If we had a team around him that could do half as well as we knew Big Star could, then we knew we had a gold medal shout.
"It all came together at the right time, but having Nick and Big Star on the team gave us a head start. Rightly or wrongly, we expect him to jump clear every time he goes in the arena. He's just phenomenal, and Nick is riding better than ever.
"A lot of youngsters - and older people - look up to Nick. What he has achieved in his career is incredible.
"I think if he didn't have Big Star he would have packed it in after London, but he just knows he is sitting on the best horse in the world and that the best is still to come.
"The horse is still so young, and is so good. Nick is going to win loads of big competitions on that horse.
"It is great for us to know that Nick is going to continue to Rio and hopefully be a part of that with Big Star. There is no reason why not, and it gives us all such a boost to know that."