Born in Hong Kong, Julia Hargreaves took up horse riding as a 7-year-old at the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club before continuing to ride after moving to Connecticut in the USA. Hargreaves moved back to Australia from the USA when she was 11 and continued to ride at school. At the age of 25, she impressed in the opening round of the 2011-12 FEI World Cup season where she won the event on Vedro at the Sydney Royal. The event was an Olympic qualifier and just a year later, Hargreaves made her Olympic debut in London. Riding Vedor, Hargreaves placed 35th in the individual event and equal 10th in the team.