Elmegardens Marquis steps out of the cold and driving rain into the impressive indoor school at Emile Faurie’s Milton-under-Wychwood farm.

A magnificent-looking dressage horse, he is soon moving around with the upmost grace and elegance.

Quickly his 48-year-old rider is putting the Danish-bred gelding through his full repertoire.

Heavily bandaged on all four legs for support and protection, the 12-year-old bay – known as Max – performs pirouettes, piaffes, flying changes, halfpasses and passages with head bowed and ears pricked.

Watching through sliding glass windows from the warmth of the viewing gallery, these intricate movements may be a mystery to the layman, but horse and rider are clearly in perfect harmony.

And with each delicate step, Faurie moves a step nearer to fulfilling his dream of a place in the Great Britain team for the Olympics in London this summer.

After returning Elmegardens Marquis to his airy stable at Heath Farm, the South African-born rider, who came to this country when he was 16, steps up to the viewing gallery.

“I have got a great horse,” he says. “He is on great form and he has just improved through the last two years.

“Every time he has gone to competitions he has got better and better, and I think there is another five per cent improvement in him.”

It’s a partnership that may not seem the most likely – a horse no-one wanted and a rider, who could be forgiven for thinking that his chance of Olympic glory may have passed him by, having competed without success at Barcelona in 1992 and Sydney in 2000 as well as being a reserve for Athens in 2004.

But then he was sent Elmegardens Marquis after French-based owner Joanne Vaughan found him a bit of a handful.

“He was an extremely hot horse when I got him,” he says. “Everyone knew that “That is why I got him. No-one else wanted him.

“I just went through a process of elimination to get him less anxious – a lot of him is anxiety rather than pure craziness – and get his confidence up and treated him more like a horse.

“He goes out into the field and on the gallops.”

And with the dedicated help of groom Jack Cates, Faurie gradually transformed the potential tearaway into a top-class international performer.

“I have a great groom who knows him so well and deals with him so well,” he adds.

“He is a one-man horse, and treats him as a very calm person.”

The walls are adorned with photographs of Faurie’s triumphs, including his big breakthrough ride on Virtu, with whom he went on to win the individual bronze and team silver medals at the 1993 European Championships.

But probably the most significant picture is from last year showing him celebrating team gold at the European Championships with teammates Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester and Laura Bechtolsheimer.

It was a triumph which made Britain early favourites for gold in London – but can they repeat the feat?

“Of course we can. There is no doubt that we can. I think if all the horses stay on form and stay healthy,” he says touching the wooden legs of his chair. “I think we will.

“I think we have the best horses in the world and they are matched with the greatest riders, so I think we have every chance of winning gold, but it is a sport and anything can happen.”

With greater expectancy, comes added pressure, but Faurie says: “Of course there is pressure because it is the Olympics and on home ground, and you want to perform well.

“I want to make sure I get there first of all.”

And Faurie’s appetite for the challenge has already been whetted by seeing the Greenwich Park arena.

“I personally think the venue is out of this world,” he says. “It is the most spectacular venue at the Olympics.

“The backdrop couldn’t be any better and to have it in the heart of the city is phenomenal.

“It will be such an integral part of the Olympics.”

And driving him along all the time is the dream of being in the British team.

“It would mean my life would be complete,” he says. “It is very much as dramatic as that.

“I know it sounds very melodramatic, but to compete in the Olympics is why I do this every day of my life and to do it in your home country is the ultimate deal.”

And with that Faurie steps back outside into the bleak midwinter – hopefully one more step towards a golden summer.