From the Badminton Horse Trials archives: when Mary King won her first title in 1992

  • We take a trip down memory lane to re-live the moment that Mary King won her first Badminton title, aboard King William in 1992

    When and where?

    May 1992, Badminton Horse Trials, Gloucestershire

    What’s the story?

    When young eventers across the world look up to five-time Olympian Mary King as a heroine of the sport — it’s hard to imagine her starting out in her career.

    “At the age of 11 I went to Badminton with the Axe Vale Pony Club, and suddenly I realised there was another world and another level of riding out there,” she wrote in her autobiography.

    “I couldn’t understand how people could be so brave to jump these huge fences. Every year I collected the Badminton programme and studied the fence names.

    “When it came to decision time at school, I realised that eventing was what I wanted to do and competing at Badminton was the completely impossible ultimate aim that I would pursue to achieve my dreams.”

    And it was aboard the British-bred gelding King William, by Nickel King, that a 30-year-old Mary was able to fulfil these dreams.

    “I fell for William the moment I saw him,” she remembered. “He was a beautiful, striking, big, dark bay horse with a white blaze, who looked so alert, purposeful and light on his feet.”

    When King William died in 2002, Mary looked back on that first Badminton victory as an enduring memory.

    “Winning Badminton on King William was the best moment of my career,” she said.

    “He was an incredibly sound horse who was renowned for his cross-country ability.

    “The public adored him — he was very recognisable with his big white blaze. A fan once sent him a letter addressed to ‘King William, Devon’ and it reached us.”

    Having first competed at Badminton in 1985, when she finished seventh on Diver’s Rock, Mary went on to win for a second time with Star Appeal in 2000.

    Continued below…

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