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A special audience for Zara at Gatcombe Park

March 26, 2006
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Mike Tindall swapped the pitch for the sidelines this weekend to watch girlfriend Zara Phillips compete on home turf in the Gatcombe Horse Trials.

Accompanied by a trio of tail-waggers, the rugby ace looked on proudly as Princess Anne's daughter put her horse Toytown through his paces at the event on her mother's Gloucestershire estate. Neither Mike, who was warmly dressed in a puffa jacket and hooded top, nor his canine companions could take their eyes off the pretty 24-year-old royal. Indeed, Zara's beloved boxer Spey, a gift from the sportsman to celebrate the couple's first anniversary, was a study in rapt attention as he keep a vigilant eye on his mistress' movements.

Following the England rugby team's last minute defeat against the Irish in the final of the Six Nations tournament, Mike must have been hoping for better luck for his horse-mad girlfriend. The event attracted an international field, with riders competing in dressage, show-jumping and cross country phases. With her mother holding an Olympic gold medal in the sport, Zara was looking to gallop to victory across a cross country course jointly designed by the Princess Royal. With an injury to Toytown making it impossible for her to compete in the last Olympics, Zara has made no secret of her desire to participate in the Beijing games. The sporting royal is currently European Individual and Team champion, and has her eye set on the World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany, in August.

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Photo: ©
Mike, Spey and the rest of the gang keep an attentive eye on Zara's progressPhoto: © Rex
Photo: ©
The young royal puts Toytown through his paces Photo: © Rex

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