Tag Archives: Oliver Townend

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Because it’s Great to be British!

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Celebrating a great equestrian summer with Horse Scout

Oliver Townend

We may have lost the football and are about to be politically screwed by the rest of Europe but the UK have plenty to celebrate in the Equestrian world.

 

For starters, British riders occupy the top three spots in world ranking for eventing. In showjumping and dressage, we still possess the individual Olympic gold medal. In horse racing British trainers, jockeys and breeders continue dominate the sport, as was evident at the Investec Derby, at Royal Ascot and in recent bloodstock auctions.

 

It has been a brilliant year for our Horse Scout advocates too and we are proud to put our brand behind all of them. William Funnell has just won the Al Shira’aa Derby at Hickstead on the exciting homebred Billy Buckingham. The pair have also been named as part of the British squad for the Nations Cup at Hickstead later this month. A good result here could see them heading out to Tryon for the FEI World Equestrian Games in September.

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Not only is Oliver Townend World Number One event rider, he has an unbelievable three horses listed for the British squad heading to the World Equestrian Games, whilst Emily King recently won the Under 25 National Championships at Bramham.

 

The busy season is in full flow and we have a long tradition of hosting some of the greatest events in the world. With a most memorable Badminton, Windsor, Bolesworth, The Hickstead Derby and Royal Ascot behind us, we look ahead to the Polo Gold Cup, The Royal International Horse Show, The Festival of Eventing, the London leg of the Global Champions Tour and Burghley. At Horse Scout we have our finger on the pulse and it’s important for us to be in the thick of this sporting action, so we have a presence at all of these events.

 

We also have some great ticket giveaways and offers coming up so you can celebrate the best of British sport ringside.

 

Horse Scout are in partnership with the team at The Longines Global Champions Tour for their forthcoming London leg, which takes place at Royal Hospital Chelsea from 3rd-5th August. This means we can offer an exclusive 20% discount on tickets over the weekend. Plus we still have limited tickets available to join us in the GC Champions Lounge. Starting from just £50, the premium package offers access to the Champions Lounge Bar, where you can mingle with the riders, chairs and high tables, panoramic views and a free welcome drink. https://www.horsescout.com/longines-gct-london

 

Written by Ellie Kelly

Tom Carlile Upsilon WC

Carlile and Upsilon are King’s of the Castle whilst Wilson and Bulana are Queen’s

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The St James’s Place Barbury Castle Horse Trials delivered masterful action from six of the top ten event riders in the world. Plus fairy tale results for horses and riders who have come back from injury and a crisis of confidence.

 

It was a win for French rider Tom Carlile and his magical grey stallion Upsilon, in the fourth leg of the Event Rider Master Series at Barbury Castle. “Only a three wins left and we can equal the legend, Andrew Nicholson”, said an enthused Tom, who has been experiencing a bit of an “off-period” with the 10 year old French bred. “He did lose a bit of confidence at the Euros (European Championships, Strzegom 2017) and he showed it again in Arville- I think we just need a couple more nice runs like today before we think about anything else too big.”

 

Upsilon was one of just seven horses to jump clear in the showjumping, which otherwise produced some cricket scores from usually reliable combinations. These included World No1 rider Oliver Townend and Cillnabradden Evo, Mark Todd and NZB Campiono and Badminton winner Jonelle Price. So it happens to the best of us!

 

Tom and Upsilon went into the final phase in the lead and his largely fluent looking cross-country round over Mark Phillips challenging track, suggested the horse was back to form. “The way he jumped the first skinny fence, straight through the flags with no hesitation, showed the mood he was in. It was just what we needed. Upsilon loves Barbury and so do I”, he said.

 

World No 2 Gemma Tattersall took second place with Clive Smith’s Pamero 4. This is another horse who has come good this season, having been plagued by injury in the past. “I’m so proud of the horse”, said Gemma. “The beginning of the season wasn’t easy as we have had a few injuries but that is horses.”

 

Australian Chris Burton was the rider to jump clear inside the time in the ERM section, which left him in third place on Polystar I.

Nicola Wilson Bulana WC

Nicola Wilson and the precociously talented mare Bulana took top prize in the CIC 3*. This was Nicola’s first big win after suffering an ankle injury and the result hopefully securing her place on the British team heading to WEG in September.

 

There was a time when stallions and mares were considered far less likely to win at top level eventing and this was often put down to hormones. Increasingly horses like Upsilon and Bulana are dispelling that myth. We would love to hear your thoughts as to why we are seeing more compete successfully as well as your own stories of owning a talented mare or stallion.

 

Written by Ellie Kelly

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BADMINTON- The year of the legends

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BADMINTON- the year of the legends

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The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials never fails to make a big splash in terms of gripping action and great moments. There’s a good reason it is one of the top five most attended sporting events in the UK and it is one of just a handful of equestrian events which is broadcast on national television these days. But what played out this year was nothing short of epic. It is fair to say that the tales thrown up at the 69th edition of Badminton, should probably go down in the history books.

 

It was a great year for the girls. Jonelle Price became the first female winner in 11 years with the evergreen mare Classic Moet, a talented and long-term coupling who have been knocking on the four star door for several years. The last female winner was in 2007 and another much loved female partnership of Lucinda Frederick and Headley Britannia had their day.

 

Jonelle’s win really emphasised the significance of a strong relationship between horse and rider. Speaking after her cross-country round she said: “I felt the pressure on the cross-country that she could go near the time but you just have to get out there and do your job and I know her so well. It’s a real partnership,” she explained. After scoring one of the few clear show-jumping rounds to secure her win, Jonelle summed up her emotions: “Being a CCI4* winner is an elite club to join and it’s been something that has eluded me for a while now, so to now join it – especially here at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials – is very, very special.”

 

The fact that Jonelle won one of the most hard-fought Badminton’s we have seen, just eight months after giving birth to her son, was not only an incredible feat but particularly inspiring for all women, girls and working mums, whether their biological ticks or not. When she was asked whether motherhood had made any difference to her mentality or the way she rode, Jonelle responded: “No, the only difference is that when I went to get on for cross-country, I had “Incey Wincey Spider” stuck in my head, so that was certainly a first.”

 

Classic Moet- a pure thoroughbred also became a mum last year (theoretically), in the shape of two embryo transfer fillies by the stallion, Upsilon.

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In addition, there were four female riders in the top ten this year and a female dominance we haven’t witnessed at the British four-stars for some time. Britain’s Ros Canter and Gemma Tattersall took 3rd and 4th spot respectively, two ladies who should surely be heading to Tryon for the FEI World Equestrian Games in September this year.

 

With an all-star cast on the entries list, there was inevitably going to be drama, masterful riding and great action. Eric Winter made his stamp on Badminton last year, with a big bold course, which caught more than half the field out that time. This year, the general consensus from riders was that the jumps were marginally kinder but still imposing and a true four star but with the added challenge of seriously holding ground conditions and the fact that many British based riders were lacking match practice after so many early season events were cancelled.

The wet winter and further rainfall on the preceding days had taken it’s toll. When the sun shone on the first two days, it worsened conditions further making the ground tacky and together with a warmer climate it was even more energy-sapping. The result was that no rider made it around the 4.2 mile course inside the time. Yet the 74 % completions and only one serious horse injury to report, made for a fairly happy Course Designer.

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We had three Horse Scout advocates competing: Giovanni Ugolotti, Joseph Murphy and Oliver Townend. All finished in the top 27 with a clear cross-country. Oliver was still on a high from his win at Kentucky and was hungry for the Rolex Grand Slam. He was named the new World Number One for the first time in his life. Despite some impressive performances with his two horses, he had to settle for runner up to Jonelle with Cooley SRS and fifth with Ballaghmor Class.

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Last year’s winner, Andrew Nicholson was never going to rest on his laurels and had saved Armada for the big occasion. Certainly fitting that he chose to retire his legendary and most noble steed at Badminton, in front of a teary eyed crowd. It was a poignant moment when he was led out of the arena, after a formidable 13 year career which included finishing in the top 12 at 10 four star events. As well as winning Pau four-star in 2012 and Badminton in 2017, with Andrew, Nereo was a mainstay of the New Zealand team for some time, winning team bronze and individual fourth at the London Olympics and individual and team bronze at the 2010 World Equestrian Games.

 

Emotions were raw by the time it came to Ben Hobday’s announcement that he was retiring crowd favourite Mulrys Error. The unorthodox eventer, who jumped a number of clears at four-star level and became affectionately known as “super cob” will now have a less demanding job of educating Ben’s stable jockeys. He may also be seen at some Eventing Grand Prix in the future.

 

Another “end to an era” looked like it was going to take place at Badminton, as Michael Jung was muttering something about retiring La Biothetique- Sam FBW (aka Sam) this year. The 18 year old has been quite simply the most successful eventer of all time, having won the World Championships, the European Championships, two Olympic gold medals and four out of his seven four star events, mostly finishing on his dressage score.

 

However, this year Badminton was not to be for the dynamic duo. One suspects Michi brought Sam to Badminton to win it and with an uncharacteristic two rails in the showjumping, he is unlikely to bow out with him just yet. Sam still looked like a five year old and was as spring-heeled as ever in difficult conditions, so it would be wonderful to see him at Burghley. Michi gave us an education in cross-country riding and Sam gave us one heart-stopping moment at the first corner jump into The Mound, when he left a leg, otherwise it was poetry in motion to watch.

 

We also said a final farewell to Mike Tucker, he stepped down from his BBC role last year but sadly succumbed to a heart-attack just months into his retirement. The “Voice of Equestrian” will be sorely missed. His communicated our equestrian sport with charm and wit. Mike often said the wrong thing but in this crazy age of political correctness, we loved him for his slight defiance.

 

I was there in my role as Assistant Producer for the BBC, which means I get to help make the Highlights Show, which goes out on the Sunday afternoon. I advise them on what should be covered in first place in our mini-documentary and do a number of off-cam interviews with riders. It means I really am in the thick of it and ensconced in the stables or riders lorry park for much of the week. Most of the BBC crew have never ridden a horse in their lives, which I think helps give another perspective, as we also have to educate and entertain the horse-ignorant as well as the avid enthusiast. This year, we all agreed was the best yet in terms of twists and turns, stories and fairy tale endings. Interviews with William Fox-Pitt, returning to Badminton for the first time since his serious brain injury in 2015 plus Andrew Nicholson, Piggy French and the blacksmith who had been the resident farrier at Badminton since 1953, left us all a bit emotional.

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Written by Ellie Kelly

Oliver Townend for Horse Scout

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Eleanore Kelly catches up with Horse Scout Ambassador Oliver Townend, about his journey so far, finding good horses, paying the bills and his computer illiteracy.

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Oliver has had another momentous year. The Shropshire-based rider claimed the Number One spot in the British Eventing rankings for the third year running. He finished a staggering 1000 points ahead of any other rider on a total of 2,341 points. There were numerous top ten finishes at International events for Oliver this year, including becoming the first British rider to win Adelaide CIC3* on a horse he had only ridden a few times before competing! The icing on the cake for Oliver was winning the very first Event Rider Masters Series, pocketing £74,000 in the process.

“It was a huge relief to win it” explained Oliver, who has prepared and campaigned several horses with this series in mind. “To me the ERM is a huge step forward in the sport- it’s a concept that works and for the riders and owners the prize money is seriously attractive. It has certainly made a massive difference in terms of my income this year. I didn’t run the horses I knew would be competitive in this class and people expected me to win it from when it was announced. So it was a relief when I did.”

Oliver has always been famed for his grit and determination. Renowned for his ability to get the best out of notoriously difficult horses. In recent years with such success behind him, he has had the luxury of being able to buy and compete better quality horses but he still relishes the challenge of a difficult one. “I love what I do and always have but riding nice horses is the answer to everything for me now. If I am going to event, I want to be on good horses” he says. “It’s difficult to find them and we have to be open minded- new rides come from all angles. I buy quite a lot from Ireland of all ages but I still have room for more owners. I am still sent horses that are talented but perhaps don’t suit other riders and I make the best of those.”

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There are a number of stars in the Townend stable. “Too many to list but I really rate Cooley SRS, who is only 9 and finished third at Boekelo” he says. He also cites Cooley Masterclass and King Joules as “exceptionally talented”, the latter has been passed from Mary King and Andrew Nicholson with a reputation for being a tricky ride.

I remember interviewing Oliver for an article some years ago. He was still renting a yard and having to sell anything that was any good and ride all sorts, just to make ends meet. Whilst he may be riding a better string of horses, his attitude to the sport has remained unchanged. What seems to motivate Oliver is an insatiable hunger to win but he still relishes riding talented but often challenging horses. With such success behind him, a string of good horses and a beautiful farm in Shropshire he could be forgiven for resting on his laurels but he has lost none of the grit and determination over the years.

Oliver won Burghley and Badminton back in 2009 and can now add the ERM Series to his list of achievements. Yet two goals remain on the agenda- “I need to get to an Olympics” he says firmly, “and I hope to God that happens soon.”

Then there’s the Rolex Grand Slam, which was won for only the second time by German’s Michael Jung this year. Eventing’s most lucrative prize is awarded to the rider who can achieve the near impossible feat of winning Badminton, Burghley and Lexington consecutively. Oliver was on course in 2010 after winning Badminton and Burghley the previous year. Yet in the cruel nature of the sport, a death-defying fall at Lexington put paid to his chances. It was a fall so dramatic that the photos made the front pages of national newspapers.

“A chance at the Grand Slam and the Olympics are the long-term goals but it all comes down to life in the end.” He says. “For me, this is a business and I need to keep doing what I am doing to survive in the sport. That means I need to sell horses, sometimes good ones.”

As well as selling good horses to keep the wheels turning, Oliver is always on the lookout for new blood and finding the good ones is never easy. “That being said, we are in a really good place in the market right now and if you’ve got a good one it can be worth a fortune” he explains. “There sport is growing in popularity- there are lots of new nations competing and more money coming into, it all helps. I was really encouraged by the prices paid at the recent Go for Gold Sale”, which took place last month in Ireland offered a collection of Irish sport horses selected especially for eventing and ranging from three year olds to established eventers, including Euro Prince who represented Ireland in Rio 2016. Record prices were paid, including €160,000 given for a talented six year old, Cornascriebe Glenpatrick who was bought for Millie Dumas.

Oliver argues that such prices area a real step forward for the industry. “It costs a lot of money to produce horses for eventing, people forget that. Good horses should be making these prices for riders to get a return. It’s also great to see owners paying these prices for their riders, it shows a lot of commitment to the sport, which is what we need to win medals.”

Oliver has been impressed by the service provided by Horse Scout. “It’s an interesting concept for the equestrian community and definitely something our industry needs. Anything to help connect the equestrian industry is a welcome addition. Particularly for professional riders but also breeders and trainers who don’t have time to spend on social media all day. For up and coming young riders, it is a good way of getting their profile out there.”

“The site looks impressive and most importantly, it is easy to use- important for me as I’m computer illiterate! I can ride a difficult horse but I can hardly work out an ipad!” he laughs.

Badmintons’ Battle of the Brothers. Nereo and Armada in the top three of leaderboard at the Badminton Mitsubishi Horse Trials.

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Two fabulous rides on two full brothers by Eventings top riders Andrew Nicholson and Oliver Townend Armada and Nereo are by the Thoroughbred stallion Fines on to Berganza, a daughter of the Hanoverian stallion Golfi. Oliver Townends ride Armada, owned by Paul and Diana Ridgeon, was ridden superbly round what has proved a course with many questions despite the perfect going. An immaculate, measured and controlled ride from Horse Scout supporter Oliver Townend. With the top six horses at this years Badminton Mitsubishi Horse Trials all within one fence of each other tomorrow is set to be an exciting….and nail biting, show jumping day.

Oliver Townend: a great start to this years Badminton Mitsubishi Horse Trials

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Huge Congratulations to Oliver Townend who is in 3rd place at this point after the dressage with a great dressage score of 73.61% (39.6) only 1.8 penalties off the leader Andrew Nicholson.

Former Badminton and Burghley winner Oliver Townend is last year’s BE number one rider and currently number 4 in the World rankings. He partnered Armada to second place at Badminton last year, and things are definitely looking positive for this years competition.

One of Horse Scouts busiest listed professional riders his Badminton Horse Trials write up for 2015 says he gained three first and second placings at a recent outing with some 14 rides over three days to bring home nine top four placings. This man is everything that says impressive.

Connect with Olivers’ profile on Horse Scout here Olivers profile