Zara Phillips out to put on royal show at Greenwich

Zara Phillips is looking to maintain a rich royal tradition at Greenwich Park, the stunning venue for the Olympic Games equestrian events which get under way on Saturday.

Phillips pulled out all the stops to make Britain's eventing squad for what is her first Olympic Games after injuries to Toytown, the horse she rode to win the 2006 world championship, meant she missed both the 2004 and 2008 Games.

So much so, the 13th in line to the British throne was absent from her grandmother Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee anniversary weekend festivities in London in June.

Instead the 31-year-old chose to compete at trials in Ireland in a bid to secure an Olympic berth.

And her perseverance paid off handsomely as she earned selection alongside William Fox-Pitt, Mary King (competing in her sixth Games), Nicola Wilson and Tina Cook.

Speaking Thursday at a venue which was a playground of royalty in Henry VI's reign, Phillips said: "Obviously it's amazing to be here. I'm massively proud of being in London at this venue. It's great at the moment, and I hope we can make it even better!"

Phillips, who rides High Kingdom, added: "This year competition has been very close, you can't predict who is going to be up there.

"The Germans are always the strongest, but they're not the only ones to be afraid of. Hopefully, we'll all do our best and cause an upset."

Phillips is upholding a family Olympic tradition.

Her mother, Princess Anne, competed in Montreal in 1976 and her father, Captain Mark Phillips, won gold in Munich four years earlier.

Alongside her at Thursday's press conference was Fox-Pitt, the number one eventer this year, who when asked, as the only man on the team, whether he was "hen-pecked" smiled: "The girls keep me in order.

"I feel very lucky in fact. Who else can say they are on a team with four beautiful blondes? I'm rather enjoying it."

Hosts Great Britain also have high hopes of a first Olympic dressage medal, Charlotte Dujardin and her mount Valegro limbering up with a new world record of 88.022 percent at Hagen in Germany in April.

But Germany are counting on dentist Hinrich Romeike extracting more gold after taking the individual eventing title in Beijing.

The unpredictability of the sport was underlined when Australian eventer Megan Jones was also sidelined just 48 hours before battle commenced.

Jones missed the competition after her horse Allofasudden suffered an injury just days after she herself replaced 2008 silver-medallist Shane Rose after his mount pulled up lame.

"I'm sure in the next couple of days I will fall apart but, in six months' time, I am getting married," said Jones.

Equestrianism is the only Olympic sport in which men and women compete head to head in the three disciplines -- jumping, eventing and dressage.

A total of six medals will be awarded.

Organisers will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the doping scandals that marred the event in 2008 when several horses tested positive.

Equestrianism can never be regarded as 'ageist' - with the likes of evergreen New Zealand star Mike Todd, winner of gold medals in Los Angeles (1984) and Seoul (1988), competing at his seventh Olympics.

The 56-year-old Kiwi is a mere spring chicken however compared to 71-year-old Hiroshi Hoketsu.

London is the Japanese showjumper's third Olympics after Beijing, where he came in 34th in the showjumping, an improvement on his 40th place during his inauspicious Games debut in Tokyo way back in 1964.

Loading...