Mary King (equestrian)

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Mary King
Mary King and Imperial Cavalier during cross-country at 2012 London Olympics.jpg
Mary King and Imperial Cavalier competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London
Personal information
Full name Mary Elizabeth King
Nationality  Great Britain
Discipline Eventing
Born (1961-06-08) 8 June 1961 (age 53)
Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, England

Mary Elizabeth King MBE (née Thomson, born 8 June 1961) is a British Olympic equestrian sportswoman who has represented Great Britain at six Olympics from 1992 to 2012, winning two silver and one bronze medal in the team eventing. She has won two gold and one silver medal in the World Equestrian Games team eventing and four team gold medals at the European Eventing Championships along with one bronze and one silver medal in the individual event. Nationally, she was the British Open Champion in 1990, 1991 & 1996 and won the CCI four star Badminton Horse Trials in 1992 & 2000, and the CCI four star Burghley Horse Trials in 1996.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Mary King was born in Newark-on-Trent 8 June 1961. Her father, Lieutenant-Commander M D H Thomson was a naval officer who suffered for the rest of his life from the consequences of a motorcycle accident that happened before Mary was born. Latterly he took the position of verger in Salcombe Regis parish church. He died in 2000. Her mother Patricia Gillian (Jill) continues the role of verger at the church. Mary also has an elder brother Simon Francis Bennett Thomson.[1][3][4]

She attended Manor House Independent School (Honiton), Kings Grammar School (Ottery St Mary) and Evendine Court School of Domestic Economy (Cordon Bleu) (Malvern).[1]

She did not grow up in a horsey family, but became fascinated by the vicar's pony, and eventually, aged 6, she persuaded her mother to lead her around the lanes on it. After that, she rode everything she could, even a donkey, and realised that she wanted to become a professional rider. It was not until she went to watch the Badminton Horse Trials, aged 11, with Axe Vale Pony Club, that she realised she wanted to become a professional three-day-event rider.[3]

After school, she went to work for Sheila Willcox, a former European Champion, where she learned everything, from breaking in and producing young horses, to top class stable management.[3]

A longing to travel took her to Zermatt where she worked as a chalet girl and which she described as being "great fun and a doddle after working in the yard". Subsequently she joined the tall ship, Sir Winston Churchill, first as a trainee, then as a watch leader, before returning to set up her own stables.[3]

Mary King converted a couple of cow sheds in a disused farmyard near her home and looked after other people's horses, gave riding lessons and bought and sold horses. To supplement her income, she cleaned houses, cooked, kept gardens tidy for people and delivered meat for the local butcher.[3]

Funding proved even more difficult in 1988 when she started competing professionally, requiring her to sell horses which had proven successful. This changed, when after being offered good money for Divers Rock, a horse on which she had achieved 7th place at Badminton, she turned the offer down commenting "I'd rather be famous than rich." It proved to be the right decision because she secured her first sponsorship deal on the back of her success.[3]

Equestrian career[edit]

Mary King went to her first Badminton in 1985, finishing in seventh place, and finally won the event in 1992 with her horse, King William. She later won the event again in 2000 with Star Appeal.[3]

In 2001, whilst exercising horses at her home, she had a fall which broke her neck. However, less than a year later she was back at the top of the sport recording top ten placings at major international events including a 3rd placing at Burghley Four Star on her great campaigner King Solomon III.[3]

She has won six team gold medals at World Equestrian Games and European Championships. She has been British Champion four times, more than anyone to date. King has also represented Britain in six Olympic Games: 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012. She won bronze with the 2008 Olympic team with Call Again Cavalier and silver with the 2012 Olympic eventing team with Imperial Cavalier.

King was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to equestrianism.[5][6]

She married Alan King (known as David King) in 1995 and they and their two children, Emily and Freddie, live in Salcombe Regis, Devon.[1][7]



Mary King on King's Gem at the 2007 Blenheim Horse Trials
  • Kings Temptress (by Primitive Rising out of Kings Mistress)
  • MHS King Joules (by Ghareeb out of Gowran Lady)
  • Cavalier Venture (by Newmarket Venture out of Newmarket Ratr Cavalier)
  • Kings Choice (by Cavalier Royale out of Corraghoe Clover)


  • Fernhill Urco (2nd at Rolex Kentucky in 2012)
  • Apache Sauce (by Endoli out of Saucy Secret) Retired from top level eventing 2012. He was to be competed at a lower level by Mary's daughter, Emily King, but later died on 6 October 2012 at Weston Part 2** event while being ridden by Emily when he ruptured a tendon.
  • Call Again Cavalier 1992–2008 (by Cavalier Royale out of My Woodlands Lady VII, half brother to Cashel Bay and Imperial Cavalier) – put down on 30 November 2008 after sustaining a broken leg at the Express Eventing International Cup, Cardiff.
  • Cashel Bay (by Cavalier Royale)
  • King William 1983–2002 (by Nickel King) – put down due to cut hoof and pastern (retired with Annie collings)[8]
  • Butterboy – first pony [9]
  • King Kong known as Conker(retired to hunting field)
  • King Samuel (sammy )(sold)
  • Star Appeal (Apple)(won Badminton CCI 4* 2000) then retired to former groom Annie Collings
  • King Boris ( Boris)(retired to Paula Lee)
  • King Basil (sold)
  • King Solomon-Solly (won Olympic silver medal, retired with paula Lee,)
  • King Cuthbert -Bert(retired to Annie Collings)
  • King Humphrey
  • King Maxium humphry
  • Diver's Rock aka George(competed him at her first ever Badminton in 1985, placed 7th)
  • King's Mistress Aka Lilly(dam to many of Mary's current event horses)
  • King Arthur - one of her first Horses (pts)
  • Silverstone - part of her early team

she is that british team championship.


  • Kings Fancy (by Rock King out of Kings Mistress, full sister to Kings Gem) – Now competing with eventer Laura Shears.
  • Kings Gem (by Rock King out of Kings Mistress, full sister to Kings Fancy) – Now competing with eventer Gemma Tattersall.
  • Kings Temptress (by Primitive Rising out of Kings Mistress)
  • Kings Rock (by Primitive Rising out of Kings Fancy)- Now competing with eventer Charlie Clover
  • Kings Command (by Primitive Rising out of Kings Mistress, half brother to Kings Fancy, Kings Gem, and full brother to Kings Temptress) Now competing with Charlotte Martin.[10]
  • King Albert (by Mayhill out of Kings Gem)- Now competing with eventer Jodie Amos.
  • King Casper, renamed Everys King for 2010 season. (By Med Night Mahout out of Kings Temptress) - Now competing with eventer Annabelle Farrar.


Mary King and Imperial Cavalier at the Quarry during the cross-country phase of Badminton Horse Trials 2011
Mary King and Kings Temptress at the Discovery Valley during the cross country phase of Burghley Horse Trials 2009.
Mary King and Apache Sauce jump the Lake during the cross-country phase of Badminton Horse Trials 2008.


  • 5th London Olympics [Imperial Cavalier]
  • Team Silver London Olympics [Imperial Cavalier]



  • 3rd Belton Park CIC*** (Fernhill Urco)
  • 4th Badminton Horse Trials International CCI **** (Imperial Cavalier)
  • 7th Luhmuhlen Horse Trials CCI**** (Apache Sauce)
  • 5th Burghley Horse Trials CCI**** (Apache Sauce)
  • 7th Burghley Horse Trials CCI**** (Kings Temptress)
  • Team Gold At FEI World Equestrian Games, Kentucky (Imperial Cavalier)
  • 6th World Games Kentucky (Imperial Cavalier)


  • 12th Burghley Horse Trials CCI**** (Apache Sauce)
  • 18th Burghley Horse Trials CCI**** (Kings Temptress)
  • 2nd Hartpury CIC*** (Apache Sauce)
  • 7th Gatcombe CIC***W (Kings Temptress)
  • 4th Luhmühlen Horse Trials CCI**** (Imperial Cavalier)
  • 5th Barbury Castle CIC*** (Apache Sauce)
  • 4th Aachen CICO*** (Imperial Cavalier)
  • 3rd Tattersalls CIC***W (Imperial Cavalier)
  • 6th Tattersalls CIC*** (Fernhill Urco)


  • 8th Pau CCI**** (Call Again Cavalier)
  • 3rd Burghley Horse Trials CCI**** (Imperial Cavalier)
  • 4th Burghley Horse Trials CCI**** (Apache Sauce)
  • Team Bronze – Beijing Olympics (Call Again Cavalier)
  • 11th Beijing Olympics (Call Again Cavalier)
  • 8th Barbury International CIC *** (Call Again Cavalier)
  • 2nd Bramham International CCI *** (Kings Fancy)
  • 8th Saumur International CCI *** (Kings Gem)
  • 5th Chatsworth International CIC *** (Kings Temptress)
  • 11th Badminton International CCI **** (Apache Sauce)
  • 2nd Belton Park International CIC *** (Imperial Cavalier)
  • 3rd Burnham Market International CIC *** (Apache Sauce)


  • 9th Rolex Kentucky Three Day CCI **** (Apache Sauce)
  • 1st Chatsworth World Cup Qualifier CIC***W (Call Again Cavalier)
  • 3rd Barbury Castle CIC*** (Call Again Cavalier)
  • 1st British Open Championships, Gatcombe Park (Call Again Cavalier)
  • 2nd European Three Day Eventing Championships (Call Again Cavalier)
  • Team Gold – European Three Day Eventing
  • 2nd Pau Horse Trials CCI**** (Imperial Cavalier)


  • 3rd Barbury Castle CIC*** (Cashal Bay)
  • 10th Burghley Horse Trials CCI**** (Cashal Bay)
  • 9th Boekelo CCI*** (Apache Sauce)


  • 7th Dartfield CCI ** (Apache Sauce)
  • 8th Barbury Castle CIC *** (Call Again Cavalier)
  • 3rd Blair Castle CCI * (Kings Gem)
  • 4th Burghley CCI **** (Call Again Cavalier)
  • 2nd Kreuth *** (Birthday Night)
  • 5th Kreuth *** (Apache Sauce)


  • 20th Athens Olympics (King Solomon III)
  • Team Silver – Athens Olympics


  • 5th European Championships, Punchestown, Ireland (King Solomon III)
  • 3rd British Open Championships, Gatcombe Park (King Solomon III)
  • 10th Bramham CCI *** (King George II)
  • 4th Badminton CCI **** (King Solomon III)


  • 5th Boekelo CCIO *** (Ryan V)
  • 3rd Burghley CCI **** (King Solomon III)
  • 2nd Thirlestane Castle CIC ** (King Solomon III)
  • 10th Thirlestane Castle CIC ** (King George II)
  • 5th Punchestown CCIO *** (Ryan V)
  • 4th Chatsworth CIC *** (King Solomon III)


  • 5th Punchestown CCI *** (Ryan V)
  • 4th Burghley CCI **** (King Solomon III)
  • 2nd Thirlestane CIC ** (King Richard)


  • 7th Olympic Games (Individual Competition), Sydney, Australia (Star Appeal)
  • 1st Badminton CCI **** (Star Appeal)


  • 5th Burghley CCI **** (King Solomon III)
  • 3rd Blair Castle CCI * (King Richard)


  • 1st Achselschwang CCI *** (King Solomon III)
  • 3rd Blenheim CCI *** (King William)
  • 8th and Team gold European Open Championships, Burghley (Star Appeal)
  • 3rd Scottish Open Championships, Thirlestane Castle (King Solomon III)
  • 2nd British Open Championships (National Champion), Gatcombe Park (King Solomon III)
  • 3rd British Open Championships, Gatcombe Park (Star Appeal)
  • 1st Chantilly CIC ** (King William)
  • 6th Punchestown CCI *** (King William)
  • 2nd Badminton CCI **** (Star Appeal)
  • 1st Saumur CCI *** (King Solomon III)


  • 1st Blenheim CCI *** (King Solomon III)
  • 1st Burghley CCI **** (Star Appeal)
  • 1st British Open Championships (National Champion), Gatcombe Park (King William)
  • 2nd British Open Championships, Gatcombe Park (King Solomon III)
  • 1st Scottish Open Championships, Thirlestane Castle (Star Appeal)
  • 1st Ladies Advanced, Thirlestane Castle (King S
  • 12th Olympic Games (Individual), Atlanta, USA (King William)


  • Team gold and Individual bronze European Championships, Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy (King William)
  • 1st Scottish Open Championships, Thirlestane Castle (King William)
  • 2nd Scottish Open Championships, Thirlestane Castle (Star Appeal)
  • 2nd British Open Championships, Gatcombe Park (Star Appeal)
  • 1st Punchestown CCI *** (Star Appeal)


  • 2nd Le Lion d’Angers CCI *** (King Solomon III)
  • 2nd Burghley CCI **** (King Kong)
  • 4th Burghley CCI **** 1994 (Star Appeal)
  • 10th British Open Championships, Gatcombe Park (Star Appeal)
  • 4th and Team gold World Equestrian Games, The Hague, Holland (King William)


  • 2nd Punchestown CCI *** (Star Appeal)


  • 2nd FEI Continental Cup Final, Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy (King Samuel)
  • 1st Windsor CCI ** (King Kong)
  • 1st Badminton CCI **** (King William)


  • 1st Loughanmore CCI ** (King Alfred)
  • Team gold European Championships, Punchestown, Ireland (King William)
  • 1st British Open Championships, Gatcombe Park (King William)
  • 1st Osberton CCN (King Kong)


  • 2nd Burghley CCI **** (King Cuthbert)
  • 4th Burghley CCI **** (King Boris)
  • 9th Blenheim CCI *** (King William)
  • 1st British Open Championships, Gatcombe Park (King Boris)
  • 6th Bramham CCI *** (King William)
  • 3rd Badminton CCI **** (King Boris)
  • 8th Badminton CCI **** (King Cuthbert)


  • 5th Le Lion d’Angers CCI *** (King William)
  • 2nd Rotherfield Park CCI *** (King Cuthbert)
  • 1st Windsor 3DE (King Max)
  • 2nd Badminton CCI **** (King Boris)


  • 1st Breda CCI ** (King Max)
  • 2nd Bramham CCI *** (King Cuthbert)
  • 1st Osberton 3DE (King Samuel)


  • 15th Burghley CCI **** (King Boris)
  • 2nd Windsor 3DE (King Arthur)


  • 1st Osberton 3DE (King Arthur)
  • 4th Breda CCI ** (King Boris)
  • 1st Bramham CCI *** (King Cuthbert)
  • 2nd Bramham CCI *** (Silverstone)


  • 7th Badminton CCI **** (Divers Rock)


  • 6th Boekelo CCI *** (Divers Rock)


  • Mary Thomson's Eventing Year, 1993
  • All The Kings Horses, 1997
  • William and Mary, 1998
  • Mary King: The Autobiography, 2009 ISBN 978-1409102809
  • Won Gold Medal In 2012 Olympics

In media[edit]

Midas Interactive brought out the computer game Mary King's Riding Star which was available on a variety of platforms.


  1. ^ a b c d The International Who's Who of Women 2002
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h The Lady – Riding High, 5 August 2008
  4. ^ Country Life
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60367. p. 25. 29 December 2012.
  6. ^ [1] Cabinet Office
  7. ^ BBC – King claims top equestrian award
  8. ^ Horse & Hound – King William dies 17 October 2002
  9. ^ BEF
  10. ^ All Breed Pedigree Query

External links[edit]