EVENTER Kitty King feels she is back dining at the top table of her sport after being promoted on to the World Class Performance Programme recently.
King, from Lower Stanton St Quintin in Wiltshire, forced her way back into the minds of the powers that be after an excellent 2013 which included a starring role in Team GB’s Nations Cup success.
And that despite missing a portion of the season – as did her best horse Zidante – through injury.
“I was on the World Class Development Programme a few years ago but then my funding dipped when I didn’t have the horsepower, as most of my horses were youngsters coming through,” said Kitty.
Now those same youngsters are making a name towards the top of the sport.
“It is really exciting news and such an honour to be on the top level of funding with the likes of William Fox-Pitt and Pippa Funnell,” she added. “It has taken a while for me to get recognised again.”
Understandably, Kitty is looking forward to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (May 7-11) when she thinks Zidante ‘can worry the top few’.
“Badminton is my local event so it means a lot to me and the increase in prize money – the winner will collect £80,000 – is great news,” said Kitty.
“Horse trials have always lagged behind racing and show jumping in terms of prize money so this is a real boost.
“It will be a first four-star event for Zidante but I think she has got it all.
“She is still only eight and had a minor injury last season which forced her to miss out on a lot of exciting things. At her best, she is definitely good enough for Badminton. She has the ability to score well in the dressage, she is very good across country and is a superb show jumper.
“The unknown factors are that it will be a different kettle of fish in terms of atmosphere to anything she has so far faced and the extra endurance needed for Badminton is another unknown. But she can worry the top few.”
In addition to Zidante, Kitty outlined plans for her other stars.
“Persimmon will be heading to the Tattersalls International Horse Trials in Ireland (May 28-June 1),” she said. “He won the two-star there last season so fingers crossed he can step up.
“Ceylor LAN will be aimed for the Young Horse world championships at Le Lion-d’Angers in France at the end of the season.”
King also revealed that she has raised her expectations about ‘dark horse’ Mo Cuiske.
“He was rather in the shadow of the others last year but he has surprised me and improved so much over the winter,” said Kitty.
“I am now looking to prepare him for a three-star event at the end of 2014.”
The wet weather may have hindered some equestrian stables but not King’s.
“We moved to Lower Stanton St Quinton seven years ago and I rent a yard from my parents,” she said.
“We have converted a barn at the farm into an indoor school and all the rain has hardly held us up at all.”
And the extra funding from the World Class Performance Programme has certainly not dampened her prospects in 2014 either.
THE Box Office for booking tickets at the Mitsubishi Motors BadmintonHorse Trials is now open for the public. For all ticket enquiries – contact 01454 218375 or email: boxoffice@ badminton-horse.co.uk.