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Mary King celebrates her 50th birthday today.

In a career spanning 30 years, Mary has made five Olympic appearances, notched up six team World and European golds and taken four British open titles.

Mary will celebrate the big day sailing around Croatia with friends and family.

“I feel rather guilty having a week off as I leave for Luhmühlen with Apache Sauce the day after I get home,” she told H&H.

Despite being the most senior member of the British team for some time, Mary has made no secret about her hunger to ride at next year’s Olympics and refuses to be drawn on when she might hang up her boots.

“I am still feeling very fit and hungry for success, so slowing down is certainly not on the cards at the moment,” she said.

“My son Freddie kept asking me the same question and I told him possibly after London 2012, but when he found out that Rio was hosting the next Games, he gave me permission to keep going until 2016 — he’s a huge football fan and is very keen to go to Brazil.”

If Mary does go on to ride in Rio, she will be 55, the same age as Mark Todd, who became Badminton’s oldest winner two months ago.

“Now Toddy’s back on the scene it makes me feel young again,” joked Mary.

H&H’s birthday message to Mary King

H&H eventing editor Pippa Roome talks about Mary King’s impressive career in our audio visual tribute to this popular rider on her 50th birthday

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (2 June, 2011)