GB chase European glory
GB's showjumpers will target European title glory this week in the quest for another spectacular summer after striking gold at London 2012.
The five-strong British contingent, headed by Olympic team gold medallists Ben Maher and Scott Brash, face four days of intense competition that will decide team and individual European champions.
Michael Whitaker, Will Funnell and Robert Smith have been selected to join the two Olympic heroes, although Smith and Voila look likely to be Britain's reserve combination.
Maher will be aboard exciting new ride Cella, with Brash on his Olympic horse Hello Sanctos, Whitaker riding Viking and Funnell partnering Billy Congo.
And even though the Olympic champions are without arguably their top combination of Nick Skelton and the rested Big Star, Brash is upbeat about prospects at Herning's MCH Arena.
"Even without Nick, I think we have a really strong team. I am looking forward to it," said Scotsman Brash.
"My horse is in really good form - I think he's in the best form of his life. He has been unbelievable.
"This year, he jumped 10 or 11 clear rounds on the trot at the top shows. He has been so consistent. In the Global Champions Tour grands prix, he was second in Estoril and third in Chantilly.
"I would say he has improved since London. The partnership has improved - we know each other inside out - and he has also got physically stronger.
"It was a very new partnership leading into the Olympics. At that level, it can take up to a year to get to know your horse and for him to know you. It is tiny little things that make a difference at the top level.
"He is so consistent and careful. He has a great brain. He really is a top, top horse."
A total of 102 riders from 24 nations have been entered for the event, with 21 of those countries contesting team honours.
A powerful German team arrive as defending champions, while Sweden's Rolf-Goran Bengtsson will go for his second successive individual crown.
Britain, though, has a strong record at European level, claiming 10 titles - four team and six individual - during the championship's history.
But they will need to recapture the blistering form displayed at Greenwich Park 12 months ago to make their presence felt alongside fellow championship heavyweights like Germany, Holland, France and Switzerland.
"The Olympics exceeded expectations," Brash added. "I thought it was going to be fantastic, but I didn't think it would be that good.
"I don't think I will ever ride in an atmosphere like that again. The crowd went crazy each time one of us entered and exited the arena. It was a really good feeling.
"I don't think you can ever stop improving. If you ask Michael or Nick the difference between now and 20 years ago, they would say it (showjumping) was a different sport now.
"Michael and Nick, for example, I really admire how they have been able to change their riding to go with the times.
"It's the technicality of the courses and the big jumps, and the major championships are where you get the gutsiest tracks that you have to jump.
"It's big from day one, and it gets bigger and harder every day. It takes a lot out of the horses. You are really pushing them to their absolute limit.
"You don't get away with anything. There is no hiding place."
Ireland, meanwhile, could also be in the mix, with team manager Robert Splaine selecting a powerful line-up of Hickstead-based Shane Breen, Cameron Hanley, Billy Twomey, Shane Sweetnam and Conor Swail.
The championship begins with a one-round speed class on Tuesday, followed by the first round of team jumping on Wednesday, with the top 10 teams reaching Thursday's medal-deciding phase.
All scores racked up during the team competition count towards individual honours, with the leading 25 riders contesting next Saturday's individual final following a rest day on Friday.