THE prospect of an all-Gloucestershire team defending Britain’s Olympic dressage gold medal in Rio next year took a step closer when Lara Griffith won her first two Grand Prix in Europe last week.

Griffith beat off international opposition to win both the Grand Prix (72.100%) and Grand Prix Special (73.667%) at the CDI3* event in Le Mans, France, the only two competitions she entered – and with personal best scores in both disciplines.

On the back of a second place to world number one Charlotte Dujardin in the Grand Prix Freestyle at the recent British Championships at Stoneleigh Park, Lara and her 13-year-old mount Rubin Al Asad (Rufus) are the fast-rising combination of British dressage.

Lara, 26, is based at the Ampney St Peter stables of Dr Wilfried and Mrs Bechtolsheimer and is mentored by their daughter Laura Tomlinson, who was a member of the gold medal-winning team at London in 2012.

Laura also posted excellent results in Le Mans on her progressive 11-year-old Unique VII, finishing third (68.520%) behind Lara in the Grand Prix and second with a score of 72.600% in their first completed Grand Prix Freestyle.

Reflecting on the possibility of selection for Rio, Lara admitted that she and Laura would love to join Dujardin on the GB team.

“All being well, Charlotte is the obvious number one, then on current results there are four of us fighting for the remaining three places – myself, Laura, Carl Hester and Fiona Bigwood," she said.

“Of course, that could all change with early results next season, but Laura and I would both love to be going to Rio on the same team.”

Hester, another member of the successful London Olympic squad is, like Dujardin, based at Newent in Gloucestershire.

“To hear my national anthem played twice in Le Mans was pretty special,” said Lara.

“It was a first indoor show for Rufus and a bit of an unknown for him and he felt a little shy. But I remembered to get my counting right this time compared to the national championships and I was delighted to win the Grand Prix on the first day by three per cent.

“Rufus feels braver outdoors so we both have things that we can still improve.”

Laura has been hampered by some cracked ribs this summer and Lara said modestly: “I have been able to practice more than Laura and Rufus is more experienced and easier to ride than her horse. She is still one to watch.”

Team Tomlinson have moved on to a slightly more important indoor competition in Holland this weekend and in the New Year they will be heading for some warm weather training and competition in Florida where Lara won her first ever international Grand Prix earlier this year.

“We are going back to Wellington in Florida, although not for as long this time, to give us a kick start ahead of the European season,” she said.