By Mike Rowbottom at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich

Zara Phillips_19_JuneJune 19 - The Queen's grand-daughter Zara Phillips, who is due to emulate her parents, the Princess Royal and Captain Mark Phillips, by competing on a horse at an Olympic Games, is looking forward to staying in the Olympic Village at London 2012 – but not particularly bothered about missing the Opening Ceremony.

The Opening Ceremony takes place on the same day that Phillips and her four colleagues – five-times Olympian Mary King, treble Olympian William Fox-Pitt, Beijing 2008 double Olympic bronze medallist Tina Cook and fellow debutant Georgina French – are due to make the final inspection of their horses on the day before the three-day event competition starts in Greenwich Park.

The team has therefore taken the decision, given that they are in action the following day, to not attend the Opening Ceremony.

"I think I'd rather get on with my competition than go to the Opening Ceremony," Phillips (pictured top alongside King and Fox-Pitt) told a team news conference here, a couple of hundred yards away from the Olympic course.

But if the 31-year-old –  BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2006 after winning the world title on Toytown – was dismissive of the Opening Ceremony, she was enthusiastic about staying with all the other athletes, four years after the Olympic equestrian event was held in Hong Kong, well away from the centre of things in Beijing.

"Obviously it will be great to be part of the Olympics and get that atmosphere and the buzz of being a part of it," she said.

"Last time it was quite far out, so they have really made a big effort this time to try and have us as part of the Olympics and to get all the atmosphere and benefits from that."

Asked whether her mother and father had responded enthusiastically upon hearing of her Olympic selection, given their own Olympic history, Phillips initially refused to jump.

"Not much," she responded with a sideways look.

"My dad's not a big talker.

"He's more interested in training.

"He comes across that way instead."

Zara Phillips_on_High_Kingdom_19_June
Princess Anne finished 24th in the individual three-day event at the 1976 Montreal Games, but fell heavily on the cross-country section during the team event, suffering severe concussion.

Captain Phillips won two Olympic medals in the three-day event – team gold at the 1972 Munich Olympics and team silver in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Coaxed once more to the jump, however, the 13th in line to the throne rose dutifully to the challenge.

"I rang my parents up and told them," she said.

"Obviously they were very excited and very proud.

"All my family are very proud and right behind me.

"It's great that I've been able to be selected.

"But we have still got to get there and the next few weeks we are working really hard to make sure we give our best performance ever.

"I count myself very lucky to be riding on a team with these guys.

"I hope we can do a good job together."

Her caution about the run-in to the Games was understandable given that she was unable to compete at the Beijing Games because of a late injury to Toytown, and that four years beforehand a similar injury to the same horse during training prevented her taking part in the Athens 2004 Games.

Asked if she had despaired of ever competing in an Olympics, she was phlegmatic in her response.

"I'm not the only one it's happened to, but you've just got to keep going and keep trying and see what happens," she said.

Comparing Toytown, whom she rode down the finishing straight at Cheltenham last month bearing the Olympic Torch, to her current horse, High Kingdom (pictured above), she said the latter was a "very different horse".

She added: "He's probably more relaxed and laid back.

"Toytown loved the crowd Kingdom wouldn't be as flash on the flat, but he's a very good jumper, nippy, so hopefully the track at Greenwich will suit him.

"He definitely senses the big occasion.

"We work day in, day out to make sure we can use it to our advantage and keep him able to give his best performance at big competitions."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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