Zara Phillips has offered her condolences to the family and friends of Emma Jonathan, a 23-year-old horse rider hoping to compete in the 2012 London Olympics, who was killed on Saturday (09.08.08).

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Zara – who was forced to pull out of the 2008 Olympics, currently being held in Beijing China, after her horse Toytown was injured – was also competing at Gloucestershire’s Hartpury Horse Trials, where Emma was crushed by her horse El Nino while competing in the cross-country event.

Zara, the granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth, said: “I didn’t know Emma, but this is very sad. My sympathies are with her family and friends.”

Before the devastating incident, Emma had been chosen to join an elite group from which the British eventing team for the 2012 London Olympics is selected.

Emma’s father Owen, 55, said: “She was a lovely girl. The news of her death is a shattering blow to the whole family. Riding was Emma’s passion. It was her raison d’etre and she was exceptionally talented. Eventing is such a dangerous sport, but Emma was so passionate about it that I would never have wanted to stand in her way.”

Her mother Jane, also 55, added: “Emma was such a wonderful daughter. Every parent would say that about their child, but she really was. She will be terribly missed by us all.”