DOWNTON’S Sophie Albery has qualified to compete at Badminton Horse Trials Grassroots 2018.

Albery, who rides in the cross country event on Wayland Timberry, a pony, finished third at the Firle international, which was enough for her to secure her place at the prestigious Badminton.

The 26-year-old had had three attempts to qualify for the event, having picked up three tickets on route, but managed to secure her place on the first attempt.

She told JournalSport: “Qualifying for Badminton felt incredible and I really didn’t expect to do it on my first attempt at Firle international.

“It was very emotional.

“Timberry gave me everything that day and jumped with all his heart.”

Sophie said she couldn’t “thank [her mum and dad] enough for all there support”, adding: “We were all in tears as we found out the results.”

As well as qualifying for Badminton, Albery also secured a first place finish at Blenheim in the British Eventing 90 (BE90) riding Timberry, who was the first pony to win in the BE90 area challenge.

Albery told JournalSport her experience at Blenheim was “crazy”.

She said: “It was amazing to be able to compete there let alone win there.”

Sophie said with so many great riders competing she never thought she would win.

“It was the most incredible feeling and I had to keep pinching myself to check it wasn’t a dream.”

She also spoke about representing Great Britain and said she has high hopes of riding for her country.

Albery will now prepare with Timberry for Badminton in May.