Kings celebrate Emily’s silver and Mary’s medal parade
Roles were reversed in the King family when Olympic eventer Mary was abroad supporting daughter Emily secure a silver medal for Team GB, writes Lee Glanville.
Emily was competing as an individual at the FEI Junior European Championships in Strzegom, Poland and won a silver medal on her horse Mr HiHo.
Although Emily, 16, is regularly competing at a higher level than this event, it was not straighforward as her horse acquired a muscle problem on the journey to Poland and she had to compete as an individual rather than in the team.
Team vets oversaw the horse’s health and gave the go ahead but it was added pressure for Emily to deal with. She was lying second after the dressage and had a double clear, having to produce a clear in the final day’s showjumping to avoid a drop to seventh place.
Mary travelled back on Monday morning to take part in the Team GB medal parade through London, then was at Watergate Bay, Cornwall on Tuesday taking part in a polo demonstration for sponsor Joules.
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Mary said: “The junior teams operate in a different way to the seniors in that you hand the horse over in England and they travel out on the same lorry with grooms hired for the event.
“I wasn’t sure when we flew out on Wednesday if we were wasting our time and that we would be flying back the next day but the vets got to work on Mr HiHo giving him extra fluids as he hadn’t travelled well. It was a tiny area of muscles high up on the top of his rump that was the problem.
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“Emily was under strict instructions from the vets as to what she had to do with him when she was riding and only had a short warm up for the dressage test. It was a good one in the circumstances but he is capable of better.
“It was very exciting to watch. After a clear on the cross country, she had a slight advantage in the showjumping but had to go clear to keep the silver medal. If she had made a mistake she would have dropped right down the list. “It was a good trip in a beautiful part of Poland - the cities were so beautiful but there was hardly anyone living in them.
Mary, Emily and Mary’s mum Jill, flew back to Luton on Monday so Mary could take part in the Olympic medal winners’ victory parade through London on open top buses.
“It was really wonderful and also quite sad as that was the end of the Olympic summer in London. As well as all the equestrian and para equestrian riders we had Tom Daley on our float. He was lovely. The crowds just went wild for him, there were hundreds of girls with posters saying ‘marry me!’ They were just screaming for him and Zara Phillips was also very popular.”
There was a reception for athletes only in the evening but Mary travelled back adn was off to Watergate Bay the next day.
A crowd of around 4,000 watched her have a polo masterclass before taking part in a game. She said: “ I had a spell when I was hitting everything and thought ‘wow, this is good’, then I couldn’t seem to hit anything. It was fun and the ponies were amazing, so sharp and well trained. It was amazing to be riding on the beach with the kite surfers on the water in the background.
It was a Joules-sponsored event and was followed by a proper polo match.
On the eventing front, Mary is off to Gatcombe on Friday with Cavalier Venture, who is one of just three horses to have been picked to represent the country at the six year old championships at Le Lion d’Angers in the third week of October.
Emily will be competing Apache Sauce at Gatcombe and then is at an event in Monmouth at the weekend with young horses Charlemagne and Miss Indigo.