The hunger to succeed
Our leading event rider professional profile goes to Oliver…Winner of both Badminton and Burghley in 2009, Oliver’s success has always been based on hard graft and a love for the horses he works with. Oliver inherited this love of horses from his parents. His dad, Alan, was also an event rider, while mum, Eve, showed side saddle at county level.
Oliver began riding when he was 7 years old. His first success came when he was 11, with his pony Cool Mule at the Horse of the Year Show. At 13 he went on to represent Britain on the Pony eventing team at the European Championships, and he quickly moved through the ranks. For three years he was stable jockey to the late British Event Team show jumping trainer, Kenneth Clawson, in Leicestershire.
When Oliver eventually set up on his own at Lubenham Lodge, Leicestershire, he had just a few pounds in his pocket but an unquenchable thirst for success. Less than two years later he was able to buy his own farm in Dudleston Heath near Ellesmere, Shropshire where he is now based.
In 2005 the Hon William Russell’s Topping provided Oliver’s first crack at Badminton and he made the most of it by finishing in 12th place. This earned them an individual place at the European Championships, Blenheim, the same year. Edward & Robert Nicholson’s Flint Curtis took over as Oliver’s top horse in 2006 after placing third at Badminton, the horse’s first four star event. Oliver remained on the British Squad, riding Flint as an individual at the Aachen WEG that year, before earning his first team place – and a European Championship gold medal – at Pratoni in 2007.
Then came his most successful year to date: 2009. Oliver and Flint Curtis won their first CCI**** at Badminton and Oliver then went on to win Burghley CCI**** on his other top grey horse, Andrew Cawthray’s Carousel Quest. He duly finished the season at the top of the British Eventing points table for the first time, having previously been top British rider.
Great results continue, with successive top placings at both national and international events. His string of horses, from youngsters to four star competitors, is impressive: his famous greys might no longer be in the start box, but they have worthy replacements. In 2012 Oliver was given the ride on Paul Ridgeon’s 4* horse Armada, and won Oliver the British National Championship title the following year.
In May this year, at one of the toughest Badminton’s in decades, Armada finished in the runner up spot. Meanwhile Black Tie II placed 4th at his first ever CCI4*, earning Oliver a place on the British Squad for the 2014 World Equestrian Games, with Armada named on the Reserve list.
Oliver finished the 2014 season at the top of the BE Rider Rankings, with a clear points lead. Armada was =3rd in the Horse Rankings.