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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 August 2005, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Law backs Phillips Euro call-up
By Scarlett Elworthy

Zara Phillips and Toytown tackle Luhmuhlen's tough cross-country course
Phillips has impressed many with her bravery cross-country
Zara Phillips can help Great Britain seal a sixth consecutive eventing gold at next month's European Championships, says Olympic champion Leslie Law.

Phillips, daughter of Princess Anne, was initially selected as one of eight individual squad riders for Blenheim.

But the 24-year-old was elevated to the four-person team after Pippa Funnell's horse Primmore's Pride was withdrawn.

"Zara and (her horse) Toytown are in the team on merit. Their results speak for themselves," Law told BBC Sport.

Law and Phillips, together with world number one William Fox-Pitt and Jeanette Brakewell, will aim to maintain Britain's record Euro run and defend the team title won in Punchestown, Ireland, two years ago from 8-11 September.

Team GB have dominated the championships since their inception in 1953, amassing an unrivalled 18 team golds down the decades.

Riders are the same as the horses - it doesn't matter what breeding they have, they still have to be good enough to do the job
Yogi Breisner

And Law, who won individual gold in Greece and helped the GB team - which also included Fox-Pitt, Funnell and Brakewell - to silver, insists the host nation are up to the task.

"Of course, as defending team champions we will be under pressure but all big events are hot-house occasions because you are always looking to win," he said.

While Law is a veteran of international campaigns - he made his debut at the 1989 Europeans (which GB won) - Blenheim will be Phillips' first crack at a major senior championship.

But Great Britain team manager Yogi Breisner agrees with Law that the young royal is more than ready to be tested at this level.

"Riders are the same as the horses - it doesn't matter what breeding they have, they still have to be good enough to do the job," Breisner said.

"And Zara has already proved her ability by finishing second in the 2002 European Young Rider Championships.

"She has the hunger to win and is certainly good enough to be a future Olympic medallist."

Born: 15 May, 1981
Family home: Gatcombe Park, Gloucestershire
Education: Gordonstoun
First royal engagement: Naming the P&O Cruises liner Adonia
Succession: 10th in line to the throne
Rebel Royal: Had tongue pierced and made plenty of headlines with her off-on relationship with top jockey Richard Johnson - but England and Gloucester rugby player Mike Tindall is now the man in her life

By competing at the Europeans, Phillips is following in the footsteps of her mother - the Princess Royal tackled the championships at Burghley in 1971 and duly won individual gold on Doublet.

It is a hard act to follow but Law is confident Phillips can handle the heat.

"There is a slightly different pressure riding for a team - there is an extra sense of responsibility to get the results," he said. "But Zara is a very talented equestrian and is used to the spotlight and in Toytown she has a truly great horse."

Funnell takes a similar line. "We've never had pressure on us like Zara's had because of her background," she said. "It can only make her stronger."

But Phillips is not keen to predict how things will go next month.

"Usually I am not too bad (with nerves)," she said. "But I have never been to the Europeans, so I can't tell you what I am going to feel like.

"All I do know is, it is great to be on the team. I've hopefully been doing something right."

BBC Grandstand will screen live coverage of the European Championships on 11 September from 1515-1645 BST.

Full Great Britain line-up:

Team: Jeanette Brakewell (Over to You), William Fox-Pitt (Tamarillo), Leslie Law (Coup de Coeur), Zara Phillips (Toytown).

Individuals:* James Robinson (Comanche), Oliver Townend (Topping), Matthew Wright (Park Pilot), Pippa Funnell (Ensign or Walk on Star), Kitty Boggis (Five Boys), Daisy Dick (Spring Along), Polly Stockton (Tangleman) and Marie Louise Thomas (The Psephologist).

* Each nation is entitled to bring a team of four riders plus two individuals, but as hosts Great Britain are allowed to field an additional six individuals.

Links to more Equestrian stories


Funnell sets another record
13 Sep 04 |  Other Sport...
Golden girl Funnell secures MBE
10 Jun 05 |  Equestrian
Honour 'caps great year' for Law
31 Dec 04 |  Equestrian
GB given gold after appeal
21 Aug 04 |  Equestrian
Equestrian UK results
12 Oct 00 |  Equestrian
17 Oct 00 |  Equestrian

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