For Alicia Hawker, the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials really is her “local” event.

At just under eight miles door-to-door, she is (just) within hacking distance of the world-famous CCI4*.

The 23-year-old will be riding her grandfather’s Robert Hawker’s horse, Charles RR, as she makes her Badminton debut.

“I live 10 minutes down the road so I have been every year,” she says.

“It has always been the one I have wanted to do.”

Jumping the Vicarage Vee — “that’s such an iconic Badminton fence” — and grazing Charlie in front of the house are two of the things Alicia is most looking forward to.

Alicia graduated from Bath University last year, where she was also a sport scholar, with a first-class honours degree in sports performance.

She managed to compete eight horses alongside her studies, but is now focusing full-time on her riding career.

This will also be the first Badminton for the 12-year-old gelding, by Verdi. They have been drawn 16th to go in the running order.

Alicia explains that horses have been in her family for years and her grandfather used to breed and trained racehorses alongside his cows on the farm.

He wanted to buy a pointer for me to ride, but I came back with Charlie,” she laughs.

“My family have always been really supportive.”

Charlie arrived as a five-year-old from Andrea Verdina and Alicia has produced him up through the levels herself.

“I was 18 when I got him and he would cart me around cross-country courses at his own speed, but he has mellowed with age,” she says.

“He is much better at a three-day, he is definitely a CCI horse — a real galloper — he likes to get settled in his stable and then I can persuade him to do some flatwork.”

The pair have enjoyed success in recent seasons, finishing third in the CCI3* for under-25 riders at Bramham and completing their first four-star at Pau last autumn.

“He is quite quirky,” she says, adding he is a “lovely horse to have around at home”.

“He isn’t a big fan of flatwork, but we always knew he was really talented.

At home he likes to jump out of the fields and you never know which field you are going to find him in, sometimes he jumps into the arena — wherever he fancies — but there is no other horse I would rather leave the start box on.”

Read the full Badminton preview in next week’s issue of Horse & Hound — out Thursday 26 April

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