Findon’s Tina hopes special times lie ahead

FINDON’S Tina Cook has had many special moments during her career and is now hoping to add to those in the next 15 months.

The event rider, who won two bronze medals in the 2008 Olympics, has a busy time ahead of her with the Badminton Horse trials starting today (Thursday), possibly the European Championships later this year and the Olympic Games in London next year.

Special is a word Cook used a lot during the interview, when she spoke about her career so far and, although she tries not to think about next year’s Olympics too much, she admitted: “They’re always at the forefront of your mind, although they’re still far enough away that you can’t get too excited.

“It’s going to be mega special, though. It will just be unbelievable.

“I’ve experienced Olympics before. I was reserve in Sydney, and in Hong Kong I won two bronzes but, when it’s in your own country, it’s just mind blowing.

“I want to get into the GB squad for London and I’ll be going for gold. I don’t want to take a step back and I want to do even better than before.

“With this horse (Miners Frolic), I’m more than capable and we weren’t that far off before.

“But we’ve both got to avoid injury and keep our fitness and form up over the next few months.”

For the meantime, Cook is focusing on the Badminton Horse Trials and she said: “It’s one of the most prestigious events in the world and there’s decent prize money to be won.

“All the best horses and riders go there and there will be 70 competitors wanting to do well, and there will be 20 or 30 who think they can win it.

“Having a fall put us out last year but I’ve finished in the top 10 before and this horse is capable.

“He has good movement for dressage, a good cross country record and is good on the last day.

“He’s proved he’s world class. We’ll go there to try to win it.”

Cook has trained Miners Frolic herself for the last eight years, since he was five, and said: “I haven’t got the finances to buy horses myself, so I train them all myself.

“It requires a lot of patience and time but it creates a strong relationship and partnership with the horse.

“Most of the top riders only have one world-class horse, so it’s hard to get over-confident about anything in the future, in case of injuries

“I have one other horse I’m training at the moment, which can maybe come into contention, but I’m keeping my feet on the ground.”

The European Eventing Championships take place in August and, as reigning champion, Cook would love to defend her title, but said: “It’s a difficult one to judge really. Yes, I want to defend my title but equally it’s another championship strain on the horse.

“Miners Frolic may have just one big major championship left, so it’s quite difficult.”

Cook got into eventing straight from school, which she left aged 16, and her father, Josh Gifford and brother, Nick, both train horses, and she said: “I made it my career when I left school and I now work with my brother, as well as doing training lessons. It’s all pretty full on, having two young children as well.”

On career highlights, Cook said: “When I was younger, it was a few individual medals.

“But the Olympic bronze medals were ultra special. After having my children, I didn’t know if I could get back to that level.

“And the following year I became European champion, which was very special, too.”

More special times could lie ahead for Cook and she is thankful to her sponsors: “The funding from Team 2012 and the National Lottery enables me to keep competing at this level, which is fantastic for me as they’ve supported me over the years”, she said

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