SHE is one of the best showjumpers in the world. She has a clothing contract with Gucci. She is the first $1 million earner in the history of Europe's Global Champions Tour. Edwina Alexander has quietly become Australia's secret millionaire sportswoman.
''I can't say I'm complaining,'' she said.
Alexander is also one of our great hopes for London next year, where she is favoured to win Australia's first showjumping medal. She finished ninth in Beijing on Cevo Itot Du Chateau, bought for the Olympics by Alexander and her partner Jan Tops
Earning millions, sipping champagne with Europe's elite and wearing Gucci wasn't something Alexander was expecting when she started riding on a borrowed horse as an eight-year-old at Avondale Pony Club. And it was definitely not on the agenda when she left Australia 12 years ago to try her luck on Mr Dundee in Europe.
She had won the events most people would associate with showjumping in Australia, but she wanted more.
Her achievement in winning the Global Champions Tour two years ago, a rich showjumping series she leads again this year, caught the eye of Gucci, which was looking to re-enter the equestrian world after 20 years.
''Another rider, Charlotte Casiraghi[daughter of Princess Caroline of Monaco], is a good friend of mine and she got me involved,'' Alexander said.
''[Gucci's creative director] Frida Giannini is a rider and she has created a great range for riding. I couldn't have dreamt of this when I left Australia.''
With Cevo Itot Du Chateau she leads the Global Champions Tour, which stops at her home in Valkenswaard, The Netherlands, this weekend. ''It's good to have it here because it means I get to sleep in my own bed and not live out of a suitcase.''
Showjumping attracts a crowd more likely to sip champagne than to throw down a beer, but it is only since the Champions Tour began in 2005 that it has taken off. ''A few years ago you would not hear of a jumping horse costing $1 million. These days it's $1.5-to-$2 million to get a good one. You have to find the right horse and then importantly you need to fit well with it.''
Alexander believes she has found the right horse with Cevo Itot Du Chateau. ''People love him because he is small but he is just a great jumper. He is a 15-year-old now but just seem to be getting better with age. It is about being a team. However, without the horse, the rider is nothing.
''Put it this way: if you put me in Michael Schumacher's Ferrari [he now drives for Mercedes] and him in my Mini, I think I would be a good chance of beating him. You need the right horse.''
Alexander, 37, is building towards the Olympics, but she has an important date in Monaco next month. She will marry Tops in front of a small group of family and friends.