BOOK OF THE WEEK; Bruising tales of a resilient rider
Monday 05 May 1997
Back in 1960 three-day eventing was thought to be too tough for women to compete in the Olympic Games. How could a chef d'equipe (so the argument went) tell a woman to get back in the saddle after a heavy fall and carry on? Reading All The Kings' Horses you begin to wonder how anyone would have had the temerity to stop them.
At Badminton in 1986 Mary Thompson (now Mrs King and with her husband, David, bearing the name referred to in the title) was knocked out cold for 20 minutes after a fall at the Normandy Bank. When she regained consciousness she took it for granted that she would ride her other horse, King Cuthbert, over the same course later that day. Fortunately, the powers-that-be did stop her on that occasion.
Many other triumphs of hope over experience are chronicled in this enjoyable tribute to the Kings' horses, past and present. Mary's perseverance with Star Appeal, the horse she will be riding in the Badminton Horse Trials which begin on Thursday, is a case in point. Last year "Apple" (as he is known in his stable) gave King two heavy falls. At Badminton he clobbered the very first fence and she was "torpedoed into the ground"; at Bramham he ran away with her.
"Any influence I might have had over him quickly vanished, and finally he was just running through the bridle and getting stronger and faster the further he went," King recalls of her Bramham ride. Eventually her horse ran "so fast and flat" into an upright gate "that he simply didn't get high enough to clear it... he stayed on his feet but I was somersaulted through the air."
A few months later - with a combination noseband and Dutch gag with Waterford mouthpiece to give her more effective brakes - King rode Star Appeal to victory at Burghley. "I was so thrilled for him; he has had so many false starts in his career, but this time it all came together," King told Debbie Sly, who wrote the book with the help of the Kings' head groom, Annie Collings, as well as Mary herself. Gill Robinson, part-owner of most of the horses, also has her say.
Emily, with whom King was five months pregnant when she rode on the winning team for the 1995 European Open Championships, naturally appears in a few of the photographs with her smiling and courteous mother. King says that motherhood has done nothing to diminish her competitive spirit; her sights are already "set firmly on the Sydney Olympics in 2000".
In the meantime, King has an important date at Badminton this week and a chance to add to her remarkable run of three-day event victories, which include Burghley and Blenheim last autumn and Saumur last month. The Kings' horses are now looking for yet another crown.
Latest in Sport
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao begin and what channel is it on?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao live: Mayweather puts on defensive masterclass to win by unanimous decision
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao begin on Sky Sports Box Office?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does the fight start and what channel is it on?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Only 132 pubs in the United Kingdom will show the fight - so where can you watch it?
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 3 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 5 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...
£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...