EVE Francis took one step closer to her dream of representing Great Britain in dressage at the Olympics after qualifying for the National Championships.

The 13-year-old St Gabriel's Roman Catholic High School pupil finished fourth on her horse Chance Encounter III in the North West Regional Championships to make the nationals, which take place in Buckinghamshire at the end of this month.

She might still be a long way from following in the hoof steps of her idol, Olympic gold medallist Charlotte Du Jardin, but dad John Francis says his daughter is already living the dream.

"Eve has been riding since she was about six years old and was absolutely glued to the London Olympics when Charlotte Du Jardin first won gold.

"Since then all she has wanted to do is ride at the Olympics.

"Obviously that is a long way off, but qualifying for the nationals is another step in the right direction."

Eve competed at the regionals alongside stablemates Rihanna Gudojc, aged 14, and Grace Schofield, 15, also from Bury.

They all have lessons at Birtle Riding Centre, near Fairfield Hospital, and together make up the Birtle Muppets dressage team.

Rihanna and Grace failed to make the individual national finals, but the trio are still waiting to find out their final placing in the team event.

John added: "The riding school has been absolutely brilliant for all three girls.

"It is a really big thing for the yard as well as Eve that she has made it through.

"I think it is the first time in a quite a while that a Birtle rider has made it this far.

"Sally Ashworth, one of the owners of the yard, has been instrumental in all of this. She has really taken Eve and all the girls under her wing, she is like their Mother Hen."