By: Chris Stafford
Emily King, “I want to be the individual Olympic Champion, number one in the world and win the Rolex Grand Slam.”
A rising talent in British eventing, 18-year-old Emily King is already managing her own string of event horses, a testament to her ambition and independence. There is undoubtedly an underlying advantage of some genetic influence from her mother, Mary, who has been part of Britain’s eventing team for the last six Olympics. There’s even an edgy determination to overshadow her achievements.
There was never any doubt that Emily would follow in her mother’s footsteps; the only question now is how long it will take her to surpass her mom’s superlative record. She already has notches on her belt from three consecutive Junior European Championships. At her second outing with Mr HiHo at Stregzom in 2012, she came away with an individual silver medal.
Emily is both charming and focused with the endearing ear-to-ear smile which has become her mother’s trademark.
The sporting attitude too was developed at a very young age. ‘I was competitive from the start and always wanted to show her what I could do,’ confesses Emily who ran around the yard as a toddler helping wherever she could. She admits to having loved mucking out, grooming and going to competitions. By the time she was six, she had mastered the “Pony Club kick” on a willful pony. Following in the family tradition along came more loan ponies before her parents bought her first pony when Emily was 11.
Together with Roy, a six-year-old 11hh Connemara, Emily ventured into her first affiliated events but she was growing fast and soon Roy was replaced with her first horse, the 16.1hh Timmy.
Emily recalls the story of Timmy’s procurement. She was with her mother at the Pau CCI4* event in France when she came upon a young event horse sale where the horses were loose jumping. She was particularly taken by a grey gelding and asked to ride him, even soliciting the opinion of British Team Trainer Yogi Breisner. Her mother, being otherwise engaged in the competition, was unaware of the scenario until Emily asked her to buy the horse. A negative response prompted the 12-year-old to get creative. She found her mother’s phone, located the number of one of Mary’s horse owners and sent them a text asking them to buy Timmy. It was her mother who first saw the responding text in which they agreed to buy him.
Emily seamlessly combined her education with her riding commitments. At high school (Queen’s College Taunton) she was the National High Jump Champion. At the age of 17 she bundled up her exams, including a top mark in Art, and declared herself a professional rider. It was a choice supported by her father David as well as her mother because, like Emily, they knew that was all she ever wanted to do.
“I want to be the individual Olympic Champion, number one in the world and win the Rolex Grand Slam,” says this very likable young lady with sincereity. And what does mom say about her high aspirations? “She told me the main thing is to definitely enjoy it when it goes well and take things on the chin when they don’t, and to keep my spirits up.” Emily, who has also learned from her mother that the secret to success lies in attention to detail, says she’s “a perfectionist like my mum.”
And with this attitude the second generation of King family eventers is already beating some of the world’s most senior riders. With six horses on her team; Brookleigh and Mr HiHo (Advanced); Charlemagne, Miss Indigo and Walitze F Vejgard (Intermediate) and Del Perio (Novice), we can safely expect to see her name on the leaderboards alongside her mother’s in the years to come. In fact it is not beyond the realms of possibility that mother and daughter could make up a quarter of the British team at the next Olympics in Rio. That is certainly the duo’s intention and they are not the Kings for nothing!