King still driven for success

It was experience that counted at Badminton Horse Trials with Mary King, 49, who now has a strong claim for a 2012 Olympic team place, third on Imperial Cavalier and winner Mark Todd, 55, making a comeback to the sport he loves, writes Lee Glanville.

These days Mary competes mainly on four star horses, youngsters she brings on that are not likely to make the very top grade are sold on, and she does not risk injuring those top class horses by pushing them uneccessarily at lesser events, which she treats as training for the big ones.

And that policy paid off when Imperial Cavalier produced the goods to secure third place with a great cross country performance and a crucial clear round in the reverse order showjumping. Seventh overnight, King had to go clear showjumping to put pressure on the six above - the top 12 riders had been split by less than two penalty points. In a tense atmosphere King and Imperial Cavalier produced a well judged clear round and was bettered only by Piggy French and Mark Todd.

At the press conference following the presentation King said: “Results like this are what keeps driving me on. I am delighted for Piggy (in second) - she used to write me fan letters when she was a little girl and I used to reply to her.Maybe it’s time I started writing to her!”

King is keen to complete her set of Bronze and Silver Olympic medals with a gold before she retired. If Mary does make it to the Olympics she will only be the second GB woman to compete in six Olympic Games - the other being Tessa Sanderson.

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She will be 50 years old but is still driven for success. She has built a team of top horses on which she can perform well at the very top level. She has one five year old gelding, Cavalier Venture, who she introduced to the sport this season,and daughter Emily has two young horses to bring on.

After heading home from Badminton, Mary had a quick turnaround and headed for Heathrow to catch a 7am flight on Tuesday to Lexington, Kentucky, where she is competing this weekend on King’s Temptress and Fernhill Urco. King’s dressage is 10.24am on Thursday on Temptress, a homebred mare from whom she already has embryo transfer foals on the ground, and 2.45pm Friday (USA times) on Urco.

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