Zara Phillips and her flamboyant chestnut gelding Toytown, the reigning world eventing champions, are favourites to win the 60th anniversary Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in Gloucestershire next week (May 7-10).

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Zara is on course to exceed her mother the Princess Royal’s record – her best result was 4th on Goodwill in 1974 – but her father, Capt Mark Phillips, is one the all-time Badminton greats, with four wins under his belt, including on The Queen’s Columbus in 1974.
 
Zara only performed the dressage phase with Toytown in 2007 before withdrawing, so the sight of this exciting partnership galloping across country over the Duke of Beaufort’s estate next Saturday (May 9) will be much anticipated.
 
The pair, who scored a promising advanced win at Powderham Castle recently, became European Champions in 2005, but Toytown’s career has been dogged by injury and he missed the Olympics last year after a freak accident at home.
 
Zara also rides Ardfield Magic Star, 19th last year and is well capable of a top 12 placing this time.
 
Other obvious candidates to win the Judy Boyt-sculpted Mitsubishi Motors Trophy for the first time include: the reigning British Open Champions Ruth Edge and Mayhem lll, the in-form Oliver Townend on Flint Curtis, third in 2006, Olympic team bronze medallists Sharon Hunt and Tankers Town, and last year’s runners-up, Lucy Wiegersma and Shaabrak.
 
The field includes three former winners, five-times Olympian Mary King on Apache Sauce, Rodney Powell on Zin Zan ll, and William Fox-Pitt, who is first to go on Macchiato, already a winner at this level, and also has the scopey chestnut Idalgo.
 
Around 85 horses are expected to run, representing 12 nations, and Lucy Wiegersma, Oli Townend and William Fox-Pitt are all in line to increase their standing in the HSBC FEI Classics, a valuable points-earning series which links the world’s 5 4-star level events and is worth around £85,000 to the leader.
 
Sheila Willcox, the only rider to have scored a hat-trick at Badminton, in 1957-9, is guest of honour at this special anniversary event. To read the extraordinary history of this event, the world’s biggest, richest and oldest, see the May 6 issue of Country Life.
 
For full details of timetable, entries and tradestands at Badminton, visit www.badminton-horse.co.uk.

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