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US equestrian Graves to miss Tokyo Games as horse retired

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Los Angeles (AFP)

Laura Graves, who won team dressage bronze with the United States at the 2016 Rio Olympics will miss this year's Tokyo Games after her horse, Verdades, was retired.

"With the retirement of my longtime partner, Verdades (Diddy), it will no longer be possible for me to pursue a place on the team that will represent the United States in Tokyo," Graves, ranked seventh in the world, said in a statement released by US Equestrian. "This decision was not taken lightly, but was made in Verdades' best interests."

Graves said in an Instagram post that she made the decision upon realizing that Verdades, an 18-year-old Dutch warmblood, would not be able to regain his top form this year.

"I've always promised that I would do my best to listen and make the right choice for him when this time came," she wrote.

Graves and Verdades burst onto the international scene in 2014, when they finished fifth in the Grand Prix freestyle at the World Equestrian Games.

They went on to win team gold and individual silver the next year at the Pan American Games in Toronto, and then were part of the bronze-medal US Olympic team in Rio -- where they were fourth in individual competition.

The bronze medal was the best finish for the United States in dressage since 1948.

Two years later, Graves and Verdades won two silver medals at the World Equestrian Games and became the first US partnership to reach number one in the world rankings.

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