MEMORIES of 2002 are still fresh in the mind of Zara Tindall with the popular royal and young mum looking to “recreate what’s been before” at the Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials and ultimately aiming for a second Olympic outing with Team GB.
Tindall is back at Bramham for an eighth time this week on board ten-year-old gelding Class Affair with the rider having returned to the saddle last August just two months after giving birth to second child Lena who became a sister to five-year-old Mia for Tindall and Otley-born husband Mike.
The young family will now be cheering on the Queen’s grand-daughter over Saturday’s Bramham cross country test which Tindall first faced as a 21-year-old in 2002 on board Toytown who helped the rider to what was then her biggest success to date when winning Bramham’s under-25s class.
Equestrian stardom followed with the royal going on to take individual and team gold on Toytown at the 2005 European Championships followed by individual gold and team silver at the following year’s World Equestrian Games.
Injury denied Toytown and Tindall possible places at the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games though the royal finally made it to the Olympics at London 2012, taking a team silver with High Kingdom.
After missing out on selection for Rio 2016, the London appearance remains Tindall’s sole Games outing but the desire for another is obvious.
Bramham can help - by developing younger horses like Toytown and now Class Affair – with Tindall ultimately looking to repeat her 2002 glory in a different class, be that in 2019 or in future years.
“I’d love to,” the 38-year-old Tindall told the Yorkshire Post, asked about the desire for another Bramham victory.
“Bramham was my first big event. I came here slightly unknown, knowing that I had a really good horse but we were very inexperienced ourselves.
“Now I bring a younger, less experienced horse again but I have had more experience so it’s just trying to recreate what’s been before, I guess.”
For every British rider, the ultimate goal as far as next year is concerned is a place on the plane to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Competition is rife with just three riders set to represent Team GB on the eventing front in Japan.
“It’s getting less and less!” said Tindall. “It was five in London and it was great fun! But that’s why you have to try to produce your best results and make sure they are in the top three if you can.”
Tindall and Class Affair sit 15th after dressage in the flagship CCI long-format four-star but the royal is hopeful of climbing up the leaderboard over Ian Stark’s cross-country test and the forecast rain will be no problem for the Queen’s granddaughter.
“He’s bred in Ireland so I’m hoping he won’t mind the rain,” smiled Tindall. “He’s a good jumper and he’s good in the mud so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Fellow Brit Pippa Funnell leads the main class after dressage on Billy Walk On with 26.6 penalty points.
Brits fill the first three places with Kitty King second on Vendredi Biats on 26.8, just ahead of Gemma Tattersall on Jalapeno III on 26.9.
Northallerton’s Nicola Wilson is joint tenth on Yacabo BK on 31.3 while Grafton's James Sommerville sits 40th on Altsaskin Jack with 37.1.
Richmond's Katie Magee is 52nd on Dollarney with 40.7 while former Yorkshire resident Matt Hecking is joint 57th with 42.9.
Saturday's cross country action starts at 9am with Sommerville the first Yorkshire rider to go at 9.27am. Tindall is underway at 10.39am.
In the short format four star, Northallerton star Wilson also sits fifth on JL Dublin.
Unlike in the flagship event and the under-25s class which conclude on Sunday, the short format competition finishes on Saturday with riders taking in the show jumping discipline first which starts at 8.30am on Saturday morning.
The cross-country test then brings the class to a close in the afternoon.