H&H’s 135th birthday: Mary King — ‘the realisation that I’d beaten everyone was incredible’

Through the highs and lows of equestrian sport, Horse & Hound has been there – documenting the many achievements of Britain’s top riders and sharing their experiences on the world stage. We all have our treasured memories from the last few decades of competition, but what would some of our best-loved celebrities single out as their proudest moments? Next up, as we celebrate H&H’s 135th birthday with a bumper issue (dated 20 June), is eventer Mary King

As a child, Olympic event rider Mary King would go on Pony Club coach trips to the Badminton Horse Trials.

“It seemed impossible at the time that I could ever gallop around that course and jump those huge fences,” says Mary (née Thomson). “I never thought I’d get there, especially as I grew up in a rented verger’s cottage and we had no money, so it was such a dream to ride at Badminton for the first time. I was second in 1989 and third a year later, with King Boris, but my first Badminton win — with King William, in 1992 — stands out as my proudest moment.

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“We were in the lead after the dressage and maintained that on day two, so I knew that we could win, but the showjumping was always difficult with King William. The realisation that I’d beaten everyone was incredible — you can’t really believe it, you just feel on top of the world. It wasn’t until the following morning, however, when my father’s Daily Telegraph arrived on the doormat and I saw myself in the headlines, that it really sank in. There was no social media in those days, but people were interested and you were asked to do so many things. I received endless cards and letters of congratulation from fans, and King William did, too — he got his own post.

“Photos of me holding that Badminton trophy are now hanging in my loo. It was the best moment of my life.”

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