‘A new challenge’: Irish Olympic rider is expecting her first baby

Irish Olympic event rider Aoife Clark will miss the start of the competition season because she is pregnant with her first child.

Aoife, 37, who lives in Oxfordshire with her husband Simon, is due to give birth at the end of April.

She said: “It will certainly be a new type of challenge, but one we are delighted about. I’ve been keeping myself very fit and, all being well, hope to be competing at Bramham in June.”

Aoife finished seventh individually at the London 2012 Olympics, and won the CCI3*s (now CCI4*-L) at Blenheim in 2013 and Bramham in 2014. She has twice finished eighth at Badminton – in 2013 aboard her Olympic ride Master Crusoe, and in 2015 with Vaguely North.

She was selected for the Irish squad for the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, USA, with Richard Last’s Fernhill Adventure, but was ruled out after injuring herself in a fall at Millstreet in August.

Aoife said: “This game is full of highs and lows and missing the Games last year was particularly tough, especially as my form with Fernhill Adventure had felt spot-on, and it was such a strong team to be a part of. It was so hard for his owners and it felt really cruel, but these things do happen.

“I’m pretty good at picking myself back up and this is a different kind of high to be looking forward to. I have a very strong team of horses at the moment and I’m really hoping to get back in time to have a crack at the Europeans in Luhmühlen in August, and am certainly aiming at Tokyo next year.

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“I had wanted to keep my pregnancy quiet for as long as possible so I could carry on as normal, and will continue to ride unless I feel I don’t want to. People are a bit surprised now when I tell them I’m due in April, but winter is quite handy for hiding these things with big coats and lots of layers!”

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