ALICIA Hawker will realise a childhood dream when competing at Badminton this week aboard 10-year-old Charles RR.

The 23-year-old Hullavington-based eventer grew up a stone's throw from the world-famous eventing course and taking to the turf will prove a surreal experience.

With a combined age of just 33, Hawker and Charles RR enter this year’s competition as one of the youngest pairings in this year’s field.

But Hawker hopes to build on her success of last year after the pair won the Les Etoiles De Pau in the South of France last October.

She said: “Badminton has always been special as it is so local to us.

“I’ve gone to watch every year since I was old enough.”

Preparation for this year’s competition has been far from ideal for Hawker and Charles though.

Weeks of rain and snow have resulted in the pair only competing in the Open Intermediate at Tweseldown amid a series of necessary cancellations.

Hawker planned to compete in the Barefoot Estates Burnham Market International at Easter.

And while the youngster managed to record a personal best in the dressage, the event was abandoned ahead of the jumping phases.

A preparation run at Belton International Horse Trials three weeks ago has served as the only competitive preparation both Hawker and Charles have competed in.

But the Wiltshire hope believes this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

She added: “Training at home is going well, unfortunately rain has meant two out of three of our prep runs so far have been cancelled.

“Charlie’s final prep will include some physio sessions, his last fitness prep on the gallops and training with coaches Mark Todd and Rhian Jones.”

A host of other local riders are also set to take part in the trials, which get under way with the first dressage tests on Thursday morning.

Georgie Spence, based in Foxham near Chippenham, rides Halltown Harley, with veteran New Zealander Sir Mark Todd, based in Badgerstown near Swindon, rides Leonidas II, along with defending champions Andrew Nicholson, based in Marlborough, and Nereo.

Mildenhall-based New Zealand husband and wife Tim and Jonelle Price are also in the field on Ringwood Sky Boy and Classic Moet respectively,

Lambourn's Kate Honey and Fernhill Now or Never, as is Britain's Danielle Dunn, from Cricklade, and Zocarla BLH.

Marlborough's Flora Harris (Bayano) and Highworth-based Australian Paul Tapner (Bonza King of Rouges) also compete, as does Marlborough's Lissa Green for Australia with Hollyfield.