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His clear round to win Burghley, in sluicing rain and ground on which every horse struggled to keep its footing, was one of the great sporting achievements of 2011.
Mary King, a crowd favourite for her guts and sportsmanship and who, at 50, would be one of our oldest Olympians, is also likely to go, riding Imperial Cavalier.
He is edgy, he is box office and he is most definitely not "one of us"."The Olympics are at the forefront of everyone's mind now but I am realistic," he said.
"There are a lot of dreamers out there who still think they are going.
It was owned by Maurice and Vivien Thompson and was their holiday home, basically.
They wanted £1,500 a month for it; by the time we finished talking it was £400."I will always be grateful for that because, without it, I don't know what I would have done.
Twenty-five years later, his son would win it."That must have taken something; for a milkman from Yorkshire to get himself to Burghley," Oliver said.
A few months later came the Rolex Event in Kentucky. Townend went over the horse, struck his head on a rail and the horse fell on top of him.I had £1,400 to my name, it was my 21st birthday and a yard had come up for rent.There were eight stables, a small cottage and 20 acres."I announced myself as a first-time buyer and I can't imagine why they thought I didn't have the money.But I am more proud of keeping this place going than I am of anything I have ever won."However, keeping Gadlas Farm going with its staff of nine required him continually to sell his best horses.
The team pretty much picks itself and I feel now that I am just going to miss out.