Equestrian feature: Rising star Emily happy to aim high

FUTURE STAR:  Emily King and Cooley Currency glide over a fence in the CIC three-star class at this year's Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials. Picture by James Hardisty.
FUTURE STAR: Emily King and Cooley Currency glide over a fence in the CIC three-star class at this year's Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials. Picture by James Hardisty.
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SIX OLYMPIC Games incorporating two silver medals and a bronze... plus two World Championships golds and four Europeans golds as well.

Emily King – one of British Eventing’s most promising rising stars – knows it would be the understatement of the century to suggest she will have her work cut out emulating her mum Mary King.

But one Bramham win and two runners-up berths is hoped to be beatable by a young rider determined to become a regular victor at Yorkshire’s premier eventing fixture.

At just 21 years of age, Emily was already appearing at her fourth Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials with June’s double assault at victory in Yorkshire.

Dargun competed in the competition’s Bishop Burton College CCI three star under-25s event while Cooley Currency took in the CIC three-star.

And despite being based some 291 miles away from West Yorkshire in Sidmouth in Devon, Emily has already been well and truly bitten by the Bramham bug.

The rider competed in the event for the first time in 2014 when Brookleigh finished a fine eighth in the CIC three-star in which King’s Mr Hiho was eliminated.

Brookleigh was then fifth in 2015 CCI three-star under-25s event in the same year that Walitze F Vejgard competed in the CIC three-star. Charlemagne then took in the under-25s event last year.

But given her mum Mary’s escapades, trips to Bramham actually began somewhat earlier with the event already close to the rising star’s heart.

“I think this year was my fourth time competing at Bramham and I always love competing there,” Emily told The Yorkshire Post.

“And obviously before that I was always coming up here with mum. I can’t remember from what age – basically from when I was born – I was probably one-month-old!”

Informed that her mum had won the event once and finished runner-up twice, Emily laughed: “I am going to win it three times then! I love coming here and it’s up there with the best events there is at three-stars.

“Obviously you have got Badminton and Burghley as the four stars but it’s definitely one as a rider you always want to win. It’s definitely one that I want to be winning soon.

“It’s such a fantastic event – really prestigious. The grounds are so beautiful, the house is amazing and with how it’s set and how they have placed it in the park, it’s got a lovely feel.

“The cross country course, with Ian Stark planning it, it’s always beautifully laid out.”

Bramham too is always pleased to welcome Emily whose mum won the event in 1986 on King Cuthbert in the year that Mary also finished second in the same event on Silverstone. That, though, was just the tip of the iceberg for a rider who has competed at six Olympic Games.

“I think I have grown up being very oblivious of it,” admitted down-to-earth Emily. “She’s my mum and I never really saw her as anything different.

“Okay, when I went to shows there was a lot more people watching and taking photographs but I think it all really went over my head as a kid.

“I think because I have grown up with it, all the top riders who are my idols are her best mates and my best mates and it’s a really close-knit family in the eventing world. It’s just something that I have grown up and not really realised what was going on.”

Assessing her own progress so far this year, Emily pondered: “I’ve had a good year so far. I’ve just been selected for the Young Riders team – put on the long-list for it so that it then gets narrowed down nearer the time.

“But I have got a really nice group of horses, I have got a few younger horses and then these two are my top horses which I hope, Dargan especially, will be stepping up to four star either this autumn or the next year.

“And the younger horses are coming up well, I competed in Ireland at Tattersalls last week and it went very well.

“I have got my last year in Young Riders so I have got the Young Rider Europeans in July and then there’s obviously the senior Europeans which are a bit later.

“The Young Riders happens first so I am going to focus on getting to that and then we will see about the seniors.

“With these horses, they have all got to really prove themselves at this level and have consistent results and it’s maybe a bit too soon for them.

“But there’s also the Nations Cup series at this level and I would love to get involved in that and do well in there and then that again stands you in good stead to go to the senior Europeans.”

Be it in 2017 or beyond, Emily’s ascension to the senior British team looks written in the stars and in the bloodline.

Mary King – now 56 – continues to event and the six-time Olympian was also at Bramham to cheer on her daughter.

“She’s so down to earth and very normal and I’m very lucky to have her,” said Emily about her mum.

“She helps me out and we help each other out and it all works all right.

“It would be pretty hard to match what she has done I would have thought. But you have got to aim high!”