- 01 Sep 2006
- IOC News
Zara Phillips, World Eventing Champion
This deserves a mention. In the most demanding of the equestrian sports – eventing - Zara Phillips, 25, granddaughter of the Queen of England, has just been crowned World Champion at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany. She thus confirms her undeniable talent and astonishing composure after her European title at Blenheim, England, last autumn.
Horse and rider: an essential bond
They say her horse is a tall common chestnut, with a lanky look about him. One might think that with her status she could have any horse in the world. Not so. Zara discovered “Toy Town” by a stroke of luck: in an advert. Thus began a long love affair between her and the horse that would make her queen of eventing! No room for error here: the bond between rider and animal is essential and primitive.
Taking after her family
Everyone knows that the British royal family are keen horse enthusiasts. At 80, Zara’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, still rides regularly. Her uncle, Prince Charles, was a good polo player and keen hunter. But it is mostly her parents whom she takes after. An IOC member since 1988, Princess Anne was European champion in eventing in 1971, while Mark Phillips was Olympic champion in the team event at the 1972 Games in Munich. “Blood is thicker than water!”
The three-day event: queen of equestrian sports
Equestrian sport comprises three disciplines: dressage, show jumping and eventing. The latter is the most demanding of the three since it combines not only show jumping and dressage, but also cross-country, a long circuit of varying terrain with natural or fixed obstacles (tree trunks, rivers, mounds, ditches, etc.) which are sometimes formidable. A good many riders who compete in show jumping events (where the bars fall if the horse knocks them) wouldn’t venture there…