|Zara Phillips prepares to take a jump (photograph by Craig Wilkinson)
Here in the UK the sport ofhorse racingis often referred to as the “sport of kings”. However, after Zara Phillips stunning victory in the WorldEquestrianGames in Aachen, Germany, perhaps equestrian events should be called the “sport of princesses.”
That’s because the newthree-day eventworld champion, Zara Phillips, is Queen Elizabeth’s niece and 11thin line to the throne.
With her horse, Toytown, she won the three-day event competition in Germany, adding the world title to theEuropean crownshe won last year.
The three-day event tests competitors’horsemanshipin three different disciplines:dressage, in which the rider must manoeuvre the horse through a sequence of movements in anenclosed arena;cross-countrywhich is a timed race overobstaclessuch as fences,pondsandditches; and finallyshow-jumpingwhich tests the technical jumping skills of horse and rider.
Zara isfollowing in the footstepsof her mother, Princess Anne, and father, Captain Mark Phillips, both of whom represented Great Britain in equestrian events. However, neither of her parents managed to achieve world champion status.
Naturally, she was delighted to win the title, telling the BBC, “It’s incredible; it’sbeyond my wildest dreams.” However, the joy of victory wastemperedwith sadness as shededicated her triumph toher friend Sherelle Duke, another equestrian rider who was killed when her horse fell,crushingher while competing a week before the World Championships.
Zara has nowset her sightsfirmly on the 2008 Beijing Olympics, especially since aninjuryto her horse prevented her from qualifying for the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
She told us, “Obviously winning the Olympics has been a massive dream but you have to get everything right leading up to it, and have the horse power, so it's still a long way away."