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Olympic hopeful Zara steps out at Cheltenham


March 16, 2004
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Zara Phillips was among the equestrian fans who turned out for the opening day of the National Hunt Festival on Tuesday.

The horse-mad royal, who is a regular fixture at the three-day event, brought a touch of aristocratic glamour to Cheltenham Racecourse. But despite being a big fan of the festival, Zara's thoughts were on the forthcoming Olympics Games in Greece.

The 22-year-old was delighted to hear that she has been included on the shortlist of riders for the games, but it remains to be seen whether she will make the final cut. Only five of the 14 hopefuls will be going to Athens, so Zara faces an anxious wait to see if she is chosen.

In the meantime the pretty blonde is receiving encouragement from the Queen herself. "My grandmother was thrilled when I was chosen for the long list," she revealed. "She'll be watching if I get to go."

And the young royal also explained that, despite being head of state, the monarch is very much a normal gran. "I often call her and tell her what my horse has been up to," she said. "Although she's the Queen, she's my grandmother and we don't have a different relationship because of who she is. She knows all the horses and likes to find out what's going on."

It seems some of Zara's other relatives may have somewhat underestimated her skills, however: "The boys, my cousins Prince William and Prince Harry, said: 'Oh my God, I didn't realise you were this good'," she explained. "I said, 'Thanks guys'."

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Photo: © Alphapress.com
The final selection for the Olympic team will not be decided for another two months. If Zara does win a place she will follow in the footsteps of her mother, who competed at the 1976 gamesPhoto: © PAy
Photo: © Alphapress.com
Zara was clearly enjoying the fun as the races got underway. The 22-year-old met up with a group of girlfriends at the racecoursePhoto: © PA

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