The former world and European champion spoke to deputy editor Kate Green ahead of the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, in which she is set to ride High Kingdom, this week (31 August – 3 September).
Zara spoke of memories of watching her father Mark Phillips competing, and then “coming home and letting the horses straight off the lorry ramp for a roll, which would drive Debbie, his groom, mad”.
She recalled her own first Burghley, in 2003, at which she and Toytown’s fence down in the showjumping meant she finished second to Pippa Funnell, who took the first Rolex Grand Slam of eventing title.
“Good job I didn’t win — everyone would have hated me,” Zara laughed.
The Queen’s granddaughter is now set to make her seventh start at Burghley, on her London 2012 team silver medal-winning partner.
Her most recent ride at the CCI4* was in 2011, also on High Kingdom, when she finished in 10th place.
“He’s such a dude,” Zara said of the 15-year-old gelding with whom she finished third at Rolex Kentucky four-star this spring. “He’s put together like a weird little pony, but he’s a proper worker.”
Zara also spoke of racing, which is a big part of her family life with former England rugby captain Mike Tindall.
Horse & Hound catches up with Zara Phillips
Horse & Hound looks back through our picture
Watch the Land Rover video staring Zara Phillips
“I wouldn’t train racehorses [in future], but I do like starting off youngsters,” she said. “The pre-training is probably the most important part, making a horse physically strong enough to cope with its job and that’s what interests me. I don’t know what will happen with the Royal Studs, but you never know.”
To read the full interview with Zara, as well as more behind-the-scenes insight into Burghley 2017, pick up a copy of this week’s Country Life (30 August).