Equestrian star Laura Gulliver has been selected for a prestigious sporting programme and will follow Paralympic greats Ellie Simmonds, Hollie Arnold, and Ade Adepitan.

It was only ever going to be a life of horses and competitions for Milton Keynes para-equestrian star Gulliver, who has been singled out by charity SportsAid as an athlete with the potential to reach the very top.

The 28-year-old from Milton Keynes grew up around horses but after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis aged 17, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to continue.

Through her hard work and determination, she has found a way to continue to keep doing what she loves.

“I’d always ridden from when I was pretty much a baby,” Gulliver said. “I left school at 16 to do an apprenticeship with horses, but that was when I got my diagnosis.

“It was a bit of a blow and I’ve had to be very resilient along the way. The horses really kept me going at that point.

“The Paralympics 2028 are on my mind,” Gulliver added. “Whenever they come round, you benchmark it and try to work backwards, thinking what competitions you can get to achieve that goal.

“I’ve always wanted to be dreaming of major championships and hopefully winning medals for GB one day.”

When Gulliver competes in dressage, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes.

“A lot goes into that five minute in the arena,” she added. “It can all look lovely and beautiful, but it’s a real team effort - the physio, the vet, the dentistry, the equipment.

“What people don’t understand is that with equestrian, there are two athletes to look after. We have the horse as an athlete and the rider as an athlete.”

SportsAid supports over 1,000 athletes each year – the vast majority aged 12 to 18 – by providing them with a financial award to help towards training and competition costs.

This acts as a real motivational boost as it is often the first recognition they receive outside of their support network. Most of them rely heavily on their parents as they have no other funding.

These athletes are Great Britain's brightest sporting prospects. They are nominated to SportsAid by the national governing bodies of more than 60 sports based on set criteria from each.

The typical value of a SportsAid award is £1,000 with money generated through a combination of commercial partnerships, trust and charitable funds, and fundraising activities.

Gulliver said: “I’m so grateful for the funding and to be able to carry on doing what I do with that support and hopefully achieve my dreams.

“My sport can get very expensive with training, competitions, and equipment. With shows, you can often spend £1000 just for entry, then you have to pay for stables and get to venues.

“It’s enabling me to attend all the qualification events along the way in order to get to the bigger competitions.

“It really means everything to be a part of the SportsAid programme.”

Entain, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. Visit entaingroup.com to find out more.