AN Olympic hopeful has more hurdles to jump before she makes it to Rio – and a few of those are at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials today.
Charlotte Agnew, from Kingston Bagpuize near Abingdon, is riding her 13-year-old homebred Out of Africa alongside the world’s best eventers. The 25-year-old starts the competition with dressage today before riding the challenging cross-country course on Saturday and show jumping on Sunday.
The end-of-season competition has 90 top riders from 13 countries competing, including New Zealand, Japan and Australia for the top prize in the high profile CCI3* event.
Miss Agnew said: “I really can’t wait for the cross-country, it is probably my favourite – it’s fast and furious.
“It is very exciting and gives you a massive adrenaline rush. “When you are jumping as fast as you can over pretty big obstacles there is the challenge of getting your lines right while it is all happening at such speed.
“It is a serious test of partnership. “You have to trust your horse and he has to put all his trust in you that you know the route and the course.”
Miss Agnew came ninth in the competition in 2011 and won the team gold medal in the Young Rider European Championships at Blair Castle in 2007.
She moved from Kelso in Scotland to Oxfordshire three years ago to live in the heartland of horseriding and become a professional event rider.
At her stables in Kingston Bagpuize she rides five different horses a day – each one for about 40 minutes.
She added: “I would love to win, but realistically I am looking to place between fifth and tenth.
“I can’t believe it is the final run of the season already. It has gone so fast. I’m really looking forward to it – Blenheim is such a special event and it is so close by.”
Miss Agnew is hoping to make it to Brazil’s 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics with Team GB if she manages to find the right horse – Out of Africa will by then be too old to compete.
Event director Mandy Hervieu said: “Charlotte is a very, very smart rider who is quite young and has had some good results.
“Everything is all coming together now. “The course looks fantastic with some great new fences, and we are pleased we have had little rain which makes things easier for the horses’ legs.
“I think we are in for a bumper weekend.”
Horseriding heroes at the competition include GB’s Tina Cook and William Fox-Pitt – who won the event last year.
Izzy Taylor, from Aynho, near Banbury, and Ginny Howe from Duns Tew, near Banbury are also riding in the competition.
About 70,000 people are expected across the four days from today until Sunday.