Royalty and statesmen

Zara was training with her Olympic teammates - (from left) Mary King, Lucy Wiegersma, William Fox-Pitt and Sharon Hunt - at a facility near Stow-on-the-Wold on Monday
Photo: Alphapress.com
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The royal equestrian checks out her beloved chestnut horse Toytown
Photo: Alphapress.com

Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips' 27-year-old daughter will compete as both an individual and as part of the team in three disciplines - dressage, cross country and show jumping
Photo: Alphapress.com

Zara saddles up in preparation for the Olympic Games

10 JUNE 2008
Since it was announced Zara Phillips would be one of five riders representing the UK as part of the British Eventing team at the Beijing Olympics, the 27-year-old royal equestrian has been hard at work preparing for the challenge.

And one thing she is definitely not being distracted by is wedding plans it seems. Following weekend reports in the UK press that she had become engaged, Zara was emphatic in her dismissal of the possibility. "Listen out everyone. I'm not engaged, I'm not engaged," she repeated to everyone in earshot, after a TV reporter broached the subject at a training session just outside Stow-on-the-Wold.

In competing at Hong Kong's world famous Sha Tin race track in August, Zara follows in the footsteps of her parents. Both her mother Princess Anne and her father, Captain Mark Phillips, have competed in previous Games, with the latter picking up a gold medal in Munich in 1972.

Right now, the most important thing on their daughter's mind is making sure her beloved horses Toytown, Cantor Index and Mr James Blackshaw are ready for the event. And during the training session with her four co-riders, Mary King, Lucy Wiegersma, William Fox-Pitt and Sharon Hunt on Monday, she was keeping a keen eye on Toytown's fitness. "The only thing I'm worried about now is him," she says.

Silently supporting Zara and her teammates - who'll compete in three disciplines, dressage, cross country and show jumping, both as a team and individually - will be the young royal's dad Mark, who's coach to the American team.

After Britain picked up a silver medal in eventing at the Athens Olympics four years ago, the team's coach, Yogi Breisner, is hoping to bring home a gold this year. When asked about his medal target he confidently replied: "Team gold, and individual gold, silver and bronze. That's the target, that's the dream."


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