Jessica back in the saddle after Euro heartbreak

Jessica Gale or Jess Gale on her horse Umbro-S. Picture: Rui Pedro Godinho
Jessica Gale or Jess Gale on her horse Umbro-S. Picture: Rui Pedro Godinho
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Jessica Gale is eager to make up for lost time as she prepares for the FEI European Dressage Championships in Compiegne, France, next year.

The 16-year-old from Worlds End, near Hambledon, qualified as part of Great Britain’s junior team for this summer’s showpiece event in Berne, Switzerland.

However, she was forced to withdraw when her horse, Umbro-S, developed an unforeseen injury.

But the talented dressage rider will be back in the international saddle next July.

And Gale has extra motivation to succeed after witnessing Team GB’s triumphant dressage team in action at the London Olympics.

She said: ‘I have Olympic ambitions of my own.

‘I am still quite young, so I will start off with competing at European championships and world cups and hopefully I can make a good impression at these events.

‘It was inspiring to see Team GB in action at the Olympics and, hopefully, I can be a part of that team in 2016 or 2020.’

Gale’s rise to prominence has been meteoric, having only made the transition from showjumping to dressage in 2010.

And her dreams of following in the footsteps of double Olympic gold-medallist Charlotte Dujardin received a huge boost when she was earmarked as being an ‘Olympian of the future’ following selection for the British Equestrian Foundation Excel Talent Programme.

The programme – funded by the National Lottery and British Equestrian – will provide the teenager with the opportunity to access top equestrian specialists including coaches, physiotherapists, psychologists, vets and nutritionists.

So, with such a promising future, Gale could have been forgiven for cursing her luck when beloved horse Umbro-S was ruled out of the European Championships.

She said: ‘I was absolutely gutted to have missed out on the European Championships in Switzerland. It is really hard to pick yourself up from something like that but that’s the nature of the sport.’

And Gale has taken precautions to make sure a repeat scenario will not occur this time around.

She said: ‘I have been training up my second horse, Rebellski, as each squad of four riders is allowed to take a reserve horse, so hopefully he will be selected as a back-up.

‘I’ll still ride on Umbro-S in Compiegne, though.’

Umbro-S, who has been at a rehabilitation centre in order to return to peak fitness, competed at Compiegne before his injury.

And Gale is hopeful this will give them an advantage as she looks to challenge for a medal.

The pair will reunite for the first time since their European Championship withdrawal when they compete in the South West Dressage Extravaganza in Dorset on December 8.

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