‘She is a natural’: Anne praises Zara & receives award for her commitment to equestrianism

This evening, following a rainy Garter Day, Princess Anne received the Longines Ladies Award for her commitment to her favourite sport of horse riding and equestrianism. She also praised her daughter, Zara Tindall’s talent in the sport.

The Princess Royal was presented with her award at the Natural History Museum by Juan-Carlos Capelli, VP for Longines, and had said it was a ‘complete surprise’ to receive the recognition.

Taking place for the fourth consecutive year, the Longines Ladies Awards celebrate women who have consistently performed at the highest level and made a significant contribution to the equestrian industry through their work.

“We are delighted to announce that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal is to be honoured this year’s Longines Ladies Awards,” Juan-Carlos Capelli said.

“She is a formidably talented horsewoman and deserves huge praise for her achievements and contributions in the equestrian world.”

In an interview with the Evening Standard, Princess Anne, 65, spoke of how she got into the sport.

“I got into racing kind of accidentally, through a challenge for a charity race day and went on from there. I expect my early engagement with ponies is beyond my living memory. I don’t ever remember not riding or being worried about it – it just seemed like a natural progression.”

“Getting to Montreal and getting the ride was enormously satisfying. I realised that I wasn’t probably going to have an opportunity to do anything like that again,” Anne commented.

The Queen’s only daughter has ridden all her life. In 1971, she became European Champion and was nominated for Sportswoman of the Year by the Sports Writer’s Association, the Daily Express and World Sport. She went on to win three more European Championships (bronze in 1973, and silver for both team and individual events in 1975). In 1976, Anne competed in the Montreal Olympics.

Her daughter Zara, 32, won a silver medal at London 2012, and Anne passed comment on her talent:

“I think it’s quite difficult to follow in your parent’s footsteps in the same sport. She’s very good. She’s very natural, and always found it easy to get on with different sorts of horses. It’s been a pleasure to watch,” the proud mother said.

In 1971, the Princess was voted BBC Sports Personality, which Zara was also bestowed with in 2006.

Anne later became President of the International Equestrian Federation between 1986 and 1994. She also became President of the British Olympic Association in 1983 and is a now member of the International Olympic Committee.

“For many children, the sport they do is because that is the one that was most available to them,” The Princess Royal said of how she got into the sport. “I was lucky there were horses involved and I was lucky that I was good enough and interested enough to go on with it. I don’t ever remember not riding.”

She also commented on the equality horse competing offers: “International competition for so long has been equal between men and women. You don’t get people whinging about whether it’s fair or unfair.

“The area where we win hands down is that it has always been, and continues to be, a very equal sport, equal opportunities and equal success,” Anne continued.

Other famous equestrians praised Anne: Lord Coe organiser of London 2012 said: “The Princess Royal’s contribution to sport has been enormous, this has been a herculean career.”

Olympic medal winner in the same field, William Fox-Pitt, said: “She was a top rider, a legend in her own right and then she’s taken our sport on.”

And then Franki Dettori, the Longines World’s Best Jockey of 2015, praised Anne too: “In my sport, she’s done tremendously enormous things for us.”

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