05/04/2012

Princess Anne's ex leaves wife No. 2 for younger rider

At least he's consistent.

Captain Mark Phillips -- father of Zara, former husband of Princess Anne -- loves horses, and apparently women who are around horses.

Phillips 1976The 63-year-old equestrian (seen at right with Anne and the in-laws in 1976) has left his second wife, former U.S. Olympic rider Sandy, for 35-year-old Lauren Hough, a current U.S. Olympic rider. His first wedded love, the Princess Royal, is also an equestrian, but unlike her successors, cannot claim to be blonde.

"Captain and Mrs. Mark Phillips are separating and divorce proceedings have commenced," law firm CKFT confirmed to the Daily Telegraph. "The couple have a daughter, aged 14, and the care and support of her is Capt. Phillips's main concern at this sensitive time."

The paper says Phillips told his 58-year-old wife and daughter Stephanie that he was leaving earlier this year.

Phillips and Hough met through his work as a trainer for the U.S. eventing team. Though his home is in Britain, he spends several months a year in the States. It's expected that he will be making a permanent move to Florida to be with Hough after the 2012 Olympics in London, where they will be coaching the U.S. team.

Zara and phillipsPhillips' parting brings back memories of his first divorce. He and Princess Anne, both equestrians, married in 1973, a year after Phillips won a gold medal at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Anne competed at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

Their 19-year marriage produced two children -- Zara and Peter -- but it suffered badly when it was reported that Phillips had fathered another child in 1984 after a one-night stand in New Zealand. His paternity was confirmed in 1991 and he and Anne divorced in 1992. By that time, Phillips had taken up with Sandy Pflueger, who had competed with the U.S. dressage team at the 1984 Olympics.

They married in 1997 and both continued their work with U.S. eventing team. They also both attended the wedding last summer of Zara Phillips -- herself an equestrian aiming for the 2012 Olympics -- and Mike Tindall. (Right, Phillips with his daughter Zara.)

He said two years ago that he'll be stepping down from his role with the U.S. eventing team after the Olympics.

As for the latest love of his life, the Daily Mail reports that Phillips told friends: “I might only be alive for another 5 10 or  years so I might as well be happy."

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