30 AUGUST 2007

She's most often seen competing for the top spot on her equestrian companion Toytown, but Zara Phillips is pinning her hopes on a different star this week. While resting her usual steed in preparation for defending her title at next month's European championships in Italy, Princess Anne's daughter was giving a little last minute encouragement to Ardfield Magic Star, ahead of their appearance at a horse competition in Lincolnshire.

After arriving by bicycle at the course for the Burghley Horse Trials - considered to be one of the top five three-day eventing competitions in the world - Zara planted a smacker on her mount. The pair were waiting their turn to take part in the traditional presentation, where horses are inspected by a ground jury of officials ahead of the event's opening.

The Queen's granddaughter will compete in the three areas of dressage, cross-country and show-jumping with the horse, who she describes as "talented but insecure". And the duo will be tested to their limits, it seems. The course for the second category has been described by its creator, Zara's father, Captain Mark Phillips, as: "Without doubt, the most difficult course seen in the world this year."

Photo: ©
The royal equestrian star, who keeps several horses at her stables on Princess Anne's Gatcombe Park Estate, plants a smacker on Ardfield Magic Star before presenting him for inspection ahead of the start of the Burghley Horse Trials
Photo: ©
With the European Championships just around the corner, Zara is competing on Ardfield to allow her her usual steed, Toytown, to rest
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