WITH THE London Olympics just a year away, look out for Britain’s young hopefuls trying to make their mark at the 2011 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials which gets underway tomorrow.

Laura Collett, Harry Meade and Emily Llewellyn are a trio to keep an eye on among the 85 entries.

Membury’s Collett is set to ride top mount Rayef for the first time at the daunting event and has another horse – Ginger May Killinghurst – anxiously waiting to move off the waiting list.

“Rayef’s going really well, he’s had two prep runs but it’s still quite scary,” Laura told the Standard on Monday. “Badminton in itself is pretty daunting anyway!

“He could be amazing in all disciplines but he’s spooky which lets him down. He’s had a year off with injury which wasn’t great. But I’ve taken him from his first Pre-Novice up to Four Star which is amazing.”

Laura has surpassed all expectations over the last few years, building her riding career up from scratch since she left school at 15. She has already completed Blenheim, Burghley and Gatcombe Festival of British Eventing at the tender age of 21 and is tackling Badminton in her sixth year as a professional.

“It’s quite scary as I’m so young, but I have some really good friends who I’ve come up with from Young Rider Europeans so it’s nice to have people your own age around you.”

Sussex’s Emily Llewellyn has proven her worth at Youth level and is the only rider to have ridden on eight consecutive Youth European Championship Teams. This will be her third year at Badminton and Pardon Me II is on top form.

Spirited Emily has shown her determination in the past and expressed her desire for Olympic gold before she turns 30. With Team GB selectors in attendance this determination will not be waning.

Another young rider who has proven he has what it takes is Chippenham’s Harry Meade, who will ride Wild Lone.

Harry is on the British Equestrian Federation’s World Class Development Team and is the only rider to have ever completed ten CCI**** events (the highest international level) by the age of 25. Notably, in each of these events he always finished in the top 25.

Speaking from his home in Luckington on Monday, Harry said: “Badminton has been our aim since Blenheim. It has been a four-month process getting ready for Badminton.

“He’s a solid horse all-round but still young and inexperienced. This will be his first four-star event.”

Harry produced Wild Lone himself from a youngster.

“He’s brave, honest, and has had a very good record so far,” he said. “He’s filled me with confidence at every stage and he’s very genuine. Badminton isn’t Badminton if it’s not daunting, but the proof will be in the pudding after the weekend.”

One-time favourite Nick Gauntlett, whose yard is just miles from the Badminton Estate at Dodington Park, was forced to withdraw Rocket Science due to a slight strain during training. He has moved off the waiting list with second mount Elektron, who has drawn an early position for the second day of dressage.

Among the favourites, Badminton stalwarts Pippa Funnell and William Fox-Pitt are competing again.

Fox-Pitt has a record 40 wins at three-day events under his belt. From his original entry of five, he has withdrawn Macchiato, Idalgo and Burghley runner-up Seacookie leaving Navigator and Cool Mountain to pose a potent threat.

Funnell will be hoping to regain her Grand Slam title with her ‘comeback horse’ Redesigned.

Pippa has taken a four-year break from Badminton but with the selectors focusing on London 2012 she will be surely going all out for the top spot this weekend.

Pippa admitted that the elusive gold medal she missed out on at the Athens Olympics will be driving her to go all guns blazing for next year’s showpiece.

Meanwhile, Foxham’s Georgie Spence will be breathing a sigh of relief as she has been moved from 13th place on the waiting list to run this weekend in her first Badminton with her top horse Birthday Night.