Vale of Belvoir eventer Heidi Coy rubber-stamped her reputation as a rider to watch with a thrilling top three finish at Badminton.
Competing at the Mecca of three-day eventing, Heidi and Riversdale Magic Heart (Meg) finished third in the Grassroots Championships, one of the leading amateur competitions in the country.
The 15-year-old from Harby had to finish in the top 10 per cent in British Eventing competitions just to be eligible for the regional qualifiers.
Once there, second spot at the Milton Keynes qualifier booked her passage to Badminton.
The pair lay fifth out of the 95-strong field after a decent dressage test on Tuesday before two pristine clear rounds in show jumping and cross country the following day elevated them up to third place.
Proud mum Helen said: “She was thrilled. To go there first time and get a result like that was amazing.
“It’s a huge event, but she was going there to be competitive. Heidi doesn’t do anything by half measures; she’s in it to win it.”
Heidi and her nine-year-old pony had to contend with torrential rain and strong winds and a teak tough cross country course to finish the two-day event.
But the pair flew round to finish a comfortable 20 seconds inside the time limit.
Helen added: “The conditions were absolutely horrendous. It was blowing a gale, and every 10 minutes it threw it down with rain.
“The wind can set horses on edge, but it didn’t seem to bother Meg. She enjoyed it as much as Heidi.
“There were quite a few problems posed on the cross country course. They make it a championship course so it’s a proper test.
“They may only be 90 high, but the questions they ask are pretty stiff.
“The courses Heidi usually tackles are four or five minutes long, but this was seven minutes uphill and down dale, but the pony made it easy.”
Heidi, who trains at Vale View Equesyrian centre, at Old Dalby, under the tutelage of Caroline Moore and Ian Woodhead, began the year by claiming a national title indoors at the Jumping and Style Championships. Now she has further big stages to conquer.
She has qualified to ride in the hunter pony class at the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead this summer, and at the Burghley Horse Trials in the Sports Pony class in September.