English rose Laura trots out for Ireland at top horse event
Model Laura Toogood is jumping for joy after being plucked to compete for Ireland in a prestigious equestrian event.
The Diary can reveal the 24-year-old, who briefly dated RTE star Ryan Tubridy, has been selected for an international dressage event in Scotland on October 17 and 18.
Despite her cut-glass accent, the Bath-born model says she's so proud to be part of the Irish team -- and can't wait to compete against the top English and Scottish riders.
Laura, who has made Dublin her adopted home and lives with Leigh Arnold's brother Nicky, has insisted there will be no doubting where her allegiances lie on the day.
"I'm so happy, I'm really looking forward to it and it's a real honour to represent Ireland -- it's a great opportunity," she said.
"My friends do think it's funny I'm competing against England but I have been living in Ireland for nearly seven years and one of my grandparents is Irish.
"I have a really strong connection with this country, I feel really settled over here and I'm a member of the Dressage Ireland, which is the governing body.
"All my friends are Irish and I did my undergraduate here at UCD and I'm in my last year of a PhD in Information Studies, so I do consider it home now."
She explained how the entry rules for the Senior Home International Championships are based on the competitor's country of residency, as opposed to their birth place.
"I'll be wearing all my Irish team kit on the day and there will be no doubting who I'm competing for," she said.
"It's a very prestigious competition and that's quite a tough selection process so it was great to make it through."
The Assets beauty revealed how she has put modelling on the back burner for a little while as she devotes all her energies into training hard for the event.
She has also been juggling her passion for show jumping alongside her long-term romance with Nicky.
The pair even moved in together into their own southside pad a few months ago, after cranking their relationship up another gear.
But for now, Laura's number one priority is scoring a big win over at Rowallan equestrian centre in Scotland next month.
"I had my horse Stuart over at a stables in Stepaside for the summer so I could compete but he's gone back to my mum's home in Bath so I'm flying over and back all the time.
"I really miss him though -- I even dreamt about him last night!" she added.
She explained how her ultimate ambition is still to ride out for Ireland in the 2012 Olympics. "That's something I would love to do in the long-term. The great thing about showjumping is there's no cut off point in terms of your age."