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FeaturesPrincess Anne and Family

Zara at 40: The Sporting Champion

Anne, Princess Royal; Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; Zara Tindall
Stephen Lock/ i-Images

Zara Tindall (née Phillips), the only daughter and the younger child of the Princess Royal and Captain Mark Phillips turns 40 this year. An accomplished equestrian, Royal Central is taking a look at Zara’s sporting achievements throughout the years.

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After studying at the University of Exeter and qualifying as a physiotherapist, Zara began to pursue an equestrian career, following her parents’ footsteps. In June 2003, Zara announced she had secured a sponsorship deal with Cantor Index, one of the leading companies in spread breeding. That sponsorship would help to cover the costs of her equestrian career. In her first four-star event in 2003, she finished as the runner-up at the Burghley Horse Trials. A year later, she would miss the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens when her horse suffered an injury during training.

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Riding her horse Toytown, Zara collected individual and gold team medals at the 2005 European Eventing Championship in Blenheim. A year later, she won individual gold and team silver medals at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany. Those medals would make her the reigning Eventing World Champion until 2010. The same year after her wins in Germany, she was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year by the British viewing public. Her mother won the same award back in 1971.

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In 2007, Zara was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2007 New Year Honours for her services to equestrianism. Despite winning gold at the 2007 European Eventing Championships in Italy, she failed to defend her individual title after a problem during the show-jumping phase of the competition.

In 2008, Zara earned her chance at competing in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, but the opportunity was short-lived. Zara’s horse Toytown was injured during training, and she was forced to withdraw. In October of that year, Zara fell from her horse, Tsunami II, at the 15th fence of a cross-country event at Pau, France. Her fall resulted in her breaking her right collarbone. As for the horse, she broke her neck after tipping over the hedge, and she was eventually put down.

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On 11 June 2012, Zara had another chance to compete in the Olympics. She was announced as a member of the British Equestrian team for the London Summer Games. Competing in the Olympics on High Kingdom, Zara won a silver medal in the team event. Her mother, Princess Anne, a member of the International Olympic Committee, presented her daughter with her medal. In the following years, she would finish second at the 2013 Luhmühlen Horse Trials, on her top horse, High Kingdom. At the World Equestrian Games in 2014, Zara and High Kingdom were a part of the British team that won team silver.

Despite marrying in 2011, it wasn’t until 2016 when Zara stopped using her maiden name, Phillips, and began using her husband’s last name, Tindall. That March, she competed for the first time as Zara Tindall during an unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio. In 2020, Zara was selected for her first appearance on the British Team, competing at the GEI Nations Cup in Le Pin Au Haras, France.

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.