Mary King in Profile
Location: Mary was born in Newark but returned to the family base in Devon at three days old. She has been based near Salcombe Regis in Devon since she was three years old.
Occupation: Mary is a full time event rider and a mother of two children.
In a career spanning over 30 years Mary King has become one of British Eventing's icons and a regular member of the British Senior team.
By her own admission Mary, now 50, finds it extraordinary that she became interested in horses as her parents were anything but keen. Her father, a retired naval officer, became a verger and at the age of six Mary began to ride the vicar's pony. Inspired by a visit to Badminton Horse Trials, Mary worked tirelessly on a butcher's delivery round and as a gardener, cook and chalet girl – anything to fund her eventing career. She became head girl to Sheila Willcox, a former European Champion and Badminton winner, and in 1985 she made her Badminton debut, finishing in seventh position.
Mary's glittering career has brought four team gold medals at World and European Championships and the title of British Champion a record four times.
London 2012 will be Mary's sixth Olympic team appearance.
2011 also brought Mary several new titles:
- Winner of the 2011 HSBC FEI Classics series - taking home a prize fund of $150,000
- The first rider-breeder to have posted a win at the Lexington Kentucky CCI4* (US)
- Along with her daughter Emily, they were the first British mother-daughter combination to have represented Britain in the same time in their respective age groups (Mary at Senior and Emily, then 15 years old, at Junior level)
Medal and British team appearances
- Team Gold & Individual 6th World Equestrian Games, Kentucky (Imperial Cavalier) in 2010
- Team Bronze & 11th individually Olympic Games, Hong Kong 2008 (Call Again Cavalier)
- Team Gold & Ind Silver European Championships, Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy 2007 (Call Again Cavalier)
- British Open Championship, Gatcombe 2007 (Call Again Cavalier)
- Team Gold World Championships Aachen 2006 (Call Again Cavalier)
- Team Silver Athens Olympic Games 2004 (King Solomon III)
- 7th Olympic Games (Individual Competition), Sydney, Australia 2000 (Star Appeal)
- 8th and Team gold European Open Championships, Burghley 1997 (Star Appeal)
- Team gold and Individual bronze European Championships, Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy 1995 (King William)
- Team gold European Championships, Punchestown, Ireland 1991 (King William)
- Pau (FRA) CCI4* 4th place with Imperial Cavalier
- Burghley Horse Trials CCI4* 4th place with Kings Temptress
- Luhmuhlen (GER) CCI4* 8th with Apache Sauce
- Saumur CCI3* 22nd with King Albert
- Rolex Kentucky 1st & 2nd with Kings Temptress & Fernhill Urco respectively
- Badminton CCI4* 3rd place with Imperial Cavalier
- World Equestrian Games, Kentucky (USA Team Gold & Individual 6th place with Imperial Cavalier
- Burghley CCI4* 5th & 7th place with Apache Sauce & Kings Temptress respectively
- Luhmuhlen CCI4* 7th place with Apache Sauce
- Badminton CCI4* 4th with Imperial Cavalier
- Tattersalls (IRL) CIC3* World Cup Qualifier 2nd place with Apache Sauce
- Chatsworth CIC3*W 9th place Fernhill Urco
- Belton CIC3* 3rd place with Fernhill Urco
- Burnham Market CIC3* 7th place with Imperial Cavalier
- Boekelo (NED) CCI3* 13th place with Fernill Urco
- Blenheim Palace 7th CIC3* 8/9 YO with Fernhill Urco1
- Burghley CCI4* 12th & 18th with Apache Sauce & King's Temptress respectively
- Hartpury CIC3* 2nd with Apache Sauce
- Festival of British Eventing CIC3* World Cup, 7th with Kings Temptress
- Barbury Castle CIC3* 5th with Apache Sauce
- Aachen (GER) CICO3* 4th with Imperial Cavalier
- Luhmuhlen (GER) CCI4* 4th with Kings Temptress
- Tattersalls (IRL) CIC3* World Cup 3rd with Imperial Cavalier
Imperial Cavalier in profile
Stable name: 'Archie'
Born: 1997 in Ireland
Sire: CAVALIER ROYALE
Dam: GENE POOL
BE Points to date:1370
View Imperial Cavaliers' Eventing form here.
Q&A with Mary
BE: At what age did you know you wanted to be an Event rider?
What is the earliest memory you have of eventing and is it this memory that made you want to take part?
I went to Badminton with my local Pony Club and fell in love with the sport there and then!
What is the single-most important thing an Event rider needs to succeed?
Thoroughness and dedication
When you started out as an event rider, who was your inspiration and why?
Lucinda Green for her natural XC riding flair
If you weren't an event rider, what job would you have?
I would love to have been a professional tennis player!
Name one thing people probably don't know about you?
I am a campanologist – look it up!
Do you keep fit/take part in other sporting activities other than riding?
I play tennis when I can
Do you have a lucky charm or ritual you perform before an event?
No – just hope and pray things go as well as I hope them to.
What's the best and worst thing about being an event rider?
Best = working outside with such fantastic animals
Worst = working horses in the cold and the rain
If someone wanted to take up the sport of Eventing what would your advice be to them?
Simply follow your dreams
Which horse would you most like to own and why (from any Equestrian sport)?
Red Rum for his gutsy attitude and strength
What is your funniest memory from your years in the sport?
In 2010 both William Fox-Pitt and I both managed to get our dressage tests wrong - I ended coming up the centre line the wrong way for my final salute!
Throughout your career, which person has given you the most support and advice?
The advice and experiences that I had training with Sheila Wilcox have stayed with me throughout my career. There a many many others that have helped me along the way too but she really has shaped the rider I am today.
What do you like about the area you now live in?
It is by the sea and has great hills for fitness work for my horses. There aren't too many horsey people in the area either which is nice, its nice to have mixed social life outside of the sport
How important is the support of local people for athletes hoping to compete in the Olympics?
It is extremely important to me. The local farmers are very supportive and let me use their land for riding, the local paper The Sidmouth Herald run a weekly column on what I am up to, and the local community really get involved. Everyone says hello when I go to the shops!
What is your favourite Horse trials event in the UK?
What was your first British Team appearance and when?
1991 Europeans in Punchestown - we brought home team gold even though I fell off! I was riding King William.
If your horse was a celebrity who would he or she be?
Imperial Cavalier would be a young Ian Botham: a bit cocky, bossy, naughty but ultimately very talented, sporty and good looking!
Which famous person alive or dead, would you like to have a one to one with?