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Former eventing Europeans and world champions Zara Phillips and Toytown were the final bearers of the Olympic torch for the day yesterday, 23 May, when the flame reached Cheltenham racecourse. Toytown, who was formally retired last year, looked well as he and Zara were greeted by more than 16,500 people at the course.
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But as Zara got ready to light her torch from that of the previous bearer the 20-year-old chestnut gelding took fright causing Zara to drop her unlit torch and the Princess Royal to grab hold of his bridle. Eventually an assistant lit the torch for Zara and handed it back to her. She then rode up the home straight and, as the final torchbearer of the day, dismounted and lit a cauldron on the stage.
“I was unbelievable — I’m shaking. It’s a massive honour to do it,” Zara told the crowd, adding: “It was a bit dodgy at the start but we did it.” She also intimated that the torch is quite heavy. “It's not too heavy when you pick it up but if you're carrying it for a little while you can feel a little burn in your bicep,” she said.
Photo: Zara Phillips