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Front Row at Gucci

Alex Hua Tian, an equestrian who competes for China, attended the Italian brand’s men’s show.

Alex Hua Tian

Alex Hua Tian

Photo By courtesy photo

IN THE SADDLE: Gucci, a brand that touts bits and stirrups among its signature details, had a couple of real-life equestrians among its front-row guests. Alex Hua Tian, who renounced his British citizenship so that he could compete on China’s horse trials, or eventing, team in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, attended with his girlfriend Sarah Higgins, a fellow rider whose specialty is dressage.

This year, Hua Tian — who was born in London to a British mother and a Chinese father, and who is a graduate of Eton College — is on the Chinese horse trials team’s wait list to take part in the 2012 London Olympics. “I’m third on the list and it could happen any time now, if a team member drops out or is injured,” Hua Tian said before the show. He added he has no regrets about handing in his British passport four years ago. “At the time, the British officials were a bit difficult — but I really wanted to have the opportunity to compete for my father’s nation,” he said.

Eventing is an equestrian triathlon that comprises dressage, cross country and show jumping. And if Hua Tian doesn’t make it into the Olympics this year, he won’t despair. “In eventing, you can compete until the age of 57. I’m 23 years old.”