Tag Archives: professional event rider

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BADMINTON CROSS COUNTRY… REVISITING THE PAST

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Welcome to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 

Wed 1st- Sun 5th May 2019

 

This week Horse Scout got a sneak peek at the cross-country course for the 70thedition of Badminton Horse Trials. “It feels like something we might have seen 25 years ago” was how Hugh Thomas described it. Big open ditches, making full use of the lips, dips, mounds, general topography and natural features of this beautiful park. This is a course that retains that “ride on your wits” cross-country feel which it has once again become famed for in recent years.

 

Eric Winter is now in his third year as course designer of Badminton and his philosophy in course design has remained the same throughout. “My aim is to put to the test, the relationship between horse and rider and the training of the horse.”

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The course runs clockwise around the park this year. As always, riders will start in the main arena before heading out to the Staircase fence- a sizeable log parallel down the two stone steps and a tight left turn to another log parallel. “It is an open start to the course to allow riders to get into a rhythm. Unlike last year where there were some early challenges, I didn’t want to break the rhythm early.”

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Things start to get pretty serious by fence 10- The Shogun Sport Hollow. After a long gallop which could be influential before a particularly technical fence, there is a funneling pagoda to direct riders to a narrow coffin ditch which is eerily, even the shape of a coffin, and a left or right choice of chunky, narrow tree trunks out. This is where the new FEI red flag rule could come into play. Where riders will be penalized 15 penalties if the whole horse does not pass between red and white flags- so that is shoulders as well as hindquarters. A rule which has not been well received by leading riders, course designers and officials… who shall remain nameless!

 

Fence 11 and 12 is the massive KBIS Bridge over the infamous Vicarage Ditch. The double numbering allows for a two jump escape route. The next fence has been used in some form at Badminton since 1949 and this year involves the notorious bank followed by a narrow brush roll top.

 

The Rolex Grand Slam Trakehner follows. Whilst impressive to the spectator, it’s big log over gaping ditch should not cause too many problems at this level. Then on to the Hildon Water Pond at 15ab which is perhaps a little softer than previous years with a big drop in before turning to a log trough in the water. Eric describes this as a run and jump fence and a bit of a let up before another tricky part of the course. Possibly an opportunity to make up time, although Eric pointed out that in the last two years of running, not one combination of horse and rider had finished on their dressage score.

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The Vicarage Ditch to the Mirage Water at 17abc and 18 is possibly one of the greatest challenges on course. An enormous right-angled corner is proceeded by an open ditch situated on a dip in the bank which will definitely unsettle some horses. Then a level four strides to another fearsome corner fence. “This is the sort of fence you would see 40 years ago- we could see all sorts of jumps over the ditch which adds to the unpredictability of the course,” Eric says.

 

There is no let up just yet and 19ab, the Nyetimber Heights involves a steep slope to an airy brush on top of a mound. Before plummeting down into the dip and up for a choice of four narrow scrubbing brush skinnies.

 

Finally, there is a course let-up fence at 20 before rider head on to three asymmetric corners in a row at the YoungMinds Brushes. YoungMinds- who help young people with mental illness and struggles is the chosen charity at this year’s event.

 

Fence 24 is an impressive affair to give riders their first taste of the infamous Badminton Lake. The jump is basically a large parallel but the design, with a pump station extending over the Lake to create a waterfall effect, which might unsettle some horses. Especially when added to the considerable crowd that always flock to the Lake. The brush fence in has been pulled back so riders land on grass before entering the Lake, then a step up and the iconic Mitsubishi pick-ups which this year have a trailer attached with dome-shaped spruce which is the part jumped by riders and horses.

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The Lakeside spectators get value for money as riders double back to the Wadworth Lower Lake at 26, a triple bar approached through the water.  After an inviting hedge comes the Voltaire Design Huntsmans Close which involves a birch parallel to a birch spread corner on a right turn.

 

To avoid a flat out gallop Eric has the Eclipse Cross Chicane (29 ab), two open ditch brushes on a U bend out and in of the deer park before the HorseQuest Quarry (30 ab) looms. This is less complicated than in recent years. In over the stone wall to a drop then up and out over a second wall.

 

Even though we are nearly home, Badminton is no place for complacency and we have seen many a rider tip up in the final few fences. The Hayracks at 31ab a roll top spread to a roll top skinny, then fence 32 the Rolex Trunk which is a sculpted log.

 

Back into the arena is the Mitsubishi Final Mount at 33, a fence designed by a member of the public for a competition a few years ago, where riders jump a pair of sculpted wooden saddles.

 

As ever a good completion will be an exhilarating experience for both the old pros and especially for those whose first experience of Badminton this will be.

 

 

Badminton build-up Giovanni and Kathryn

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Badminton build-up Giovanni and Kathryn

“I would rather win Badminton than any other event in the world” reveals international eventer Giovanni Ugolotti. “There is a feeling that no other event has, even the World Championships or Olympics and for Kathryn and me, it is what we have been dreaming of from childhood.”

With team appearances at the Olympics, World Games, European Championships, the Pan-Am Games and a number of CCI4* events between them, you could say that Kathryn Robinson and Giovanni Ugolotti are eventing’s “power couple”. Together they run Cranford Stud, an eventing and training yard in Gloucestershire and are both planning to compete at Badminton 2018. Horse Scout are giving away a prize for two people to walk the Badminton course with Kathryn and Giovanni and discover their trade secrets.

Giovanni started eventing in his native Italy and finished 4th in the Italian Junior Championships in 1999. He rode for the Italian Army Equestrian team from 2002 until 2007 before arriving in England in May 2008 to work for Andrew Nicholson. This was followed by a stint riding young horses for Tristram Owers. He quickly made his mark on the British scene taking 1st and 2nd at Hartpury CCI1* in 2008. In 2010 he finished 12th at Pau CCI4* and has competed at Badminton on three occasions.

Kathryn was born in Canada to a British father and Canadian mother but has been based in the UK for most of her life. The daughter of unhorsey parents, she began riding at her local riding school and was an active member of the Woodland Pytchley Pony Club. Kathryn didn’t take up eventing properly until she was 19, whilst working for international eventer Sam Albert.

Kathryn admits her career would not have been the same without her ride of seven years, Let It Bee. A horse she bought from Germany simply as an amateur horse but with whom she has scaled the highest level. The pair have competed at Badminton, Pau, The Pan Am Games and the Rio Olympics. Kathryn is hopeful for a good placing at this year’s Badminton, having jumped a double clear at her first attempt here in 2016.

So what do you need to excel at Badminton? “You need a partnership with your horse” explains Giovanni. “And your horse needs to be at the top of his form that weekend. You can have very good horses, capable of winning but if they are having an off day or are not at their peak for those four days then you are not going to win. You need a bit of luck” he says.

Kathryn and Giovanni will walk the Badminton course about four times. “The first impression doesn’t usually change too much and it is certainly a course that doesn’t get any smaller each time you walk. In fact, with Badminton I find that the more you think about it, the bigger it seems” he smiles.

Giovanni and Kathryn have a healthy working relationship rather than a competitive one. “We try to help each other” says Giovanni. “Kathryn helps me a lot in the dressage and I try to help her in the jumping. Sometimes we bump into arguments like every couple does. Luckily we like completely different kinds of horses, so it works out quite well.”

During the winter Kathryn likes to keep her eye in by riding out racehorses for trainers such as Ben Pauling and Alan King. Whilst Giovanni prefers to capitalise on the downtime, returning to Italy to see family. He is an ardent football fan and supporter of AC Milan.

Life on the yard is pretty busy so during the season, there is little time for other hobbies. “There is a lot of paperwork involved with running an equestrian business” explains Kathryn “Although we sometimes go to the gym after we have finished riding the horses”.

For 2018 they have some exciting young horses coming through, but good result at Badminton is vital for both riders as it will help their chances of team selection for the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon in September 2018.   

Written By Ellie Kelly

Emily King’s training trip to Marcus Ehning

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Emily King – My trip to Marcus Ehning

At just 21 Emily King has already made a strong impression on the Equestrian world. She entered her first BE event at the age of 12 and from the age of 15 was a regular member of British Junior and Young Rider Teams. Emily won individual silver at the Junior Europeans in 2012, the same year her mother won eventing team silver at the London Olympics and made her CCI4* debut in 2015, finishing fourth with Brookleigh, at the tender age of 19.

Horse Scout are lucky enough to have Emily on board as an advocate. Ellie Kelly caught up with the gutsy blonde, shortly after her return from time spent with German show jumping champion Marcus Ehning, who helped Germany win team gold at the Sydney Olympics and the World Equestrian Games in 2010. He has made it to the top of the FEI Longines World rankings and has partnered great horses such as For Pleasure, Plot Blue and Comme Il Faut.

“I’ve always admired Marcus as a rider and after I left school at 16 to focus on eventing, I have been away training at different yards every winter” explains Emily who has previously been to Pippa and William Funnell, German showjumper Marco Kutscher and Finnish eventer Piia Pantsu. She has spent two winters with Ben Maher and honed her flatwork skills with dressage riders Ferdi Eilberg and Kyra Kurkland.

Emily spent six weeks with Marcus, coming home just before Christmas. “I basically work as a groom and rider. I found my own accommodation and instead of payment, I received training” she explains. “It really was fantastic because I learn so much about their routine and management as well as the riding side.”

Emily took one horse with her, Quinlan Z, a six year old stallion who was purchased as a five year old last spring with the intention to event him but also use him as a breeding stallion.

“Marcus is such a great horseman. In the entire time I was there, I never once saw him get cross with a horse. He is always quiet and patient and it’s interesting as he is a very slight build and yet rides a real variety of horses, from big, powerful stallions to small, really blood types. When you ride his horses, they all go in the same way, because of the way they are produced by Marcus” Emily says.

“His training philosophy has a lot of emphasis on rhythm and he was encouraging me to keep the horse in a forward open rhythm, between fences and through turns. So the idea is that you take one less stride to every fence” she explains.

“What I also found interesting was that he likes to give the horse a lot of space in front of the fence, rather than ramming them into the bottom of the fence as you expect some show jumpers to do. This is to allow the horse the time and room to make a shape and teach good technique” says Emily. “It was amazing what a difference it made when I started to ride with this in mind. He is strict on rider position so I hope I have improved in this respect too.”

When it comes to management and the running of the yard, Emily says their attention to detail was on another level. “The grooms knew each horse inside out and whenever a horse came back from a show, it would be jogged up and undergo a flexion test. Every Monday, the vet would come and all 22 of Marcus’s top horses would be jogged up, flexed and seen on the lunge” she says. “His horses would be ridden for about 45 minutes or more as well as going on the walker and they always went out in the field each day.”

The 2018 event season is nearly upon us and Emily is excited to put all her winter training to practice. “This year is looking good so far. I have some lovely horses to ride and some exciting young ones. Then there is Dargun, who did his first CCI 3* last year and will be aimed at some ERM classes and maybe a CCI4* in the autumn. He has so much ability but is still young so I plan to take it slowly” she says.

Emily has been working with Horse Scout since Spring 2017 and has already reaped the benefits of all it has to offer. “We’ve used Horse Scout for selling horses and I have also been to see horses to buy. There is always a huge selection and you can target exactly what you are looking for. And I love following their social media.”

“I’ve also been riding in Jin Stirrups which Horse Scout introduced me to and I love” she says. “They are light and the grip is amazing. Even when it’s raining and muddy, they stick tight to your foot.”

Emily’s top tip

“Leave no stone unturned. Plan for every eventuality and be ready for anything that might be thrown at you at a show. That really gives me confidence.”

 

Written by Ellie Kelly
Photo credits Hannah Freeland Photography

The Rich History of Badminton Horse Trials

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Regardless of your chosen equestrian pursuit, most of you have probably attended Badminton Horse Trials at least once in your life. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people make the trip to Badminton Estate to shop, walk the cross country course, drink Pimms and most importantly watch the eventing itself. But how much do you know about the history of Badminton?

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Badminton was first held in 1949 by the 10th Duke of Beaufort to let British riders train for international events. In that first year, there were just 22 starters from two countries, Britain and Ireland – how things have changed!

The prize money for the inaugural 1949 event was £150 to the winner; by 1975 this had ‘progressed’ to £1,000; in 1995 it was £22,500 and in 2015 it was £80,000. This year the winner will take home the record prize of £100,000! In this professional era of the sport, the winner of the most prestigious event of them all will be properly rewarded. The overall prize pot amounts to nearly £360,000 with prize money going down to 20th place.

The Badminton Estate has been in the possession of the Beaufort family since 1608. The house and parkland date from the 17th and early 18th centuries and the park was modelled by William Kent and Capability Brown.

In 1953 the very first European Championships were staged at Badminton. In 1956, the Steeplechase course was moved from the Didmarton point-to-point course to the site at The Slaits, where it stayed until discontinued in 2006. Since then the Trials have been “Short Format”, without Roads & Tracks or Steeplechase.

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Messrs. Whitbread sponsored Badminton Horse Trials from 1961 until 1991, making it one of the longest sponsorships in sporting history. Mitsubishi-Motors took over the sponsorship in 1992 and the riders compete for the silver Mitsubishi Motors Trophy designed and produced by the Wiltshire-based sculptress, Judy Boyt.

On just four occasions bad weather has forced the cancellation of the Trials– in 1966, 1975, 1987 and 2012. The terrible weather of 1962/63 which continued into the spring, forced Badminton to down-grade to a one day event. The Foot and Mouth epidemic also caused the cancellation of the 2001 Event.

KEY FACTS

  • In 1995 Mark Todd rode over half the cross-country course on Bertie Blunt with only one stirrup! Sadly the horse was eliminated at the final Horse Inspection the next day.
  • The horses with the most Badminton completions are Ballycotton (6 ), Over To You (7), Lenamore (7) and Comanche (7).
  • Most wins goes to Lucinda Green (6 wins), followed by Captain Mark Phillips and Mark Todd (4 wins), followed by Sheila Willcox, Ginny Leng, Ian Stark and Pippa Funnell (3 wins).
  • Just Four Winning Mares: Emily Little ridden by Captain Mark Darley, Bambi V ridden by Margaret Hough, Peggoty ridden by Captain Martin Whiteley and Headley Britannia, ridden by Lucinda Fredericks in 2007.
  • Ian Stark is the only rider to gain first and second places in the same year.
  • Sheila Willcox is the only rider to have achieved a hat-trick of wins in 1957, 1958 and 1959 on the trot.
  • The smallest horses ever to compete have been Our Solo, Our Nobby and Portersize Just a Jiff, all horses registered as 15hh.
  • The biggest horses to compete have been Durlas Eile, Columbus, Custom Made and Word Perfect II. All were believed to be 17 hh+.
  • The youngest rider to win at Badminton is Richard Walker who won in 1969 aged 18.
  • The oldest rider to win at Badminton is Mark Todd aged 55 in 2011.
  • Completed the most times – Andrew Nicholson (NZL) is the holder of this record with 35 times. Previously Lorna Clarke held the record with 22 times. Lorna retired after the 1992 event.

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Together with the four-star rated Rolex Kentucky Three Day and the Burghley Horse Trials, Badminton forms the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing. Only two people have ever won the Grand Slam; Pippa Funnell in 1993 and Michael Jung in 2015/16. In 2007 Andrew Hoy nearly took the title but lost out when he had a pole down showjumping at Burghley- a heart-breaking 4 faults!

In 2016 Badminton Horse Trials was the 7th most attended sporting event in the UK, after Wimbledon tennis championships, F1 British Grand Prix, Royal Ascot, Cheltenham Festival, ATP World tennis finals and the Open golf championships. Fast forward to today and the cross-country day at Badminton attracts crowds of up to a quarter of a million and is the second largest for money made in the world.

We look forward to a spectacular event next week and wish all those competing the very best of luck.

Chilli Morning – highest ranked competing stallion ever!

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Horse Scout is pleased to present a world class stallion that needs very little introduction.

Chilli Morning is fast becoming an icon and a legend in the sport of eventing. Partnered by three greats of the sport – Nick Gauntlett, Mary King and most famously William Fox-Pitt, this stunning chestnut by Phantomic rose to the higher echelons of the eventing world to become the first stallion in history to win the prestigious Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials back in 2015, following his World Equestrian Games Bronze in 2014. Chilli Morning finished his illustrious eventing career at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio as the highest placed British combination in 12th place.

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Owned by Mr & Mrs Christopher Stone and bred by Rainer Schicketanz from Neustadt in Germany and sired by Phantomic and out of a Kolibri called Koralle. ‘Chilli’ has always been the most exceptional stallion and competition horse, with striking looks, scope and paces that were the envy of the eventing world.

Chilli started his career with a win as a 6-year old, in 2006 with Nick Gauntlett in what was then called Pre Novice, before finishing his first season with a 2nd place at The Pavo British Eventing Breeding Championships at Tweseldown. From thereon, as they say, the rest is history. A career spanning 10 years with numerous National and International victories including Badminton CCI****, Bramham CIC*** & CCI*** twice, The Festival of British Eventing and Houghton CIC***. Chilli Morning will forever be remembered as an eventing great, as we now look to the future to the progeny that are set to follow in his hoof prints.

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Already proving very fertile, a string of Chilli offspring are already starting to make their mark on the world with Chillis Gem, ridden by Gemma Tattersall, representing GB at the 2016 Le Lion d’Angers Seven Year Old World Championships.

“Although Chilli needs no introduction and his results and reputation speak for themselves, it is still really important to let people know that he is standing at stud and that this year for the first time he is available for fresh/chilled AI. Horse Scout is a good way for us to get the word out and a great platform for people to get more information,” added Elodie Frost, agent for Chilli Morning.

Chilli now stands at the West Kington Stud, owned by Tim & Jane Holderness-Roddam and managed by Tessa Clarke, a yard steeped in as much eventing history and glory as Chilli himself.

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What can we expect from Chilli in the future?

“Chilli is now 17 so we will have to see how he enjoys his first season at stud and then make a decision about the coming years. I think it is very likely that there will be performance related selection criteria moving forwards. We already have some very exciting Chilli progeny and are looking forwards to seeing if they can follow in Dad’s footsteps!” added Elodie. 

All enquiries regarding Chilli Morning should be directed through Elodie Frost.

PREPARING FOR BADMINTON: EXCLUSIVE INSIGHT

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Horse Scout catches up with two of their sponsored riders, Joseph Murphy and Gubby Leech, to find out what the month prior to riding at Badminton involves.

 

Most event riders grow up dreaming of riding at the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials, based in the heart of the Cotswolds. It takes years, sometimes decades of training and hard graft to reach the required 4* level and earn those elusive FEI points to be applicable to enter.

Horse Scout asks two of their sponsored riders, Joseph Murphy and Gubby Leech to provide insight into the one month leading up to the big event.

 

The horse’s training

Joseph Murphy, Irish Olympic event rider, is entered to ride Sportsfield Othello, a 16 year old gelding by Ricardo Z and out of Moyview Lady and co-owned with the brilliantly supportive Alison Schmutz.

Joseph explained that the first two weeks of April are focused on reaching the horse’s fitness goals with a mixture of galloping and swimming to build cardiovascular fitness and stamina. He gallops ‘Frankie’ every 3rd and 5th day followed by a swim and always icing the legs afterwards to reduce inflammation and prevent injury. In fact, Joseph ices the legs of all his horses after they are ridden each day. This fortnight is a ‘scary time for injuries’ said Joseph, and when you would look to do any necessary veterinary work to ensure the horse is in optimal condition.

This intense fitness work will then taper right down and the last two weeks of April focus on technical training, practising dressage movements from the test, agility jumping and specific exercises to fine tune the horse.

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Gubby Leech, British 4* event rider, is entered on Antoinette Denham-Harding’s 12 year old ISH gelding Xavier, by Clover Echo and out of Knightfield Sally.

Gubby is based at the quiet and beautiful Clarendon Park Estate in Wiltshire. He does all his fitness training on the forgiving old turf in the grounds of the estate. There is a perfectly steep hill that Gubby does repetitions galloping up and letting Xavier rest on the way down. They do fitness work every four days and will have their last gallop on the Saturday before Badminton week, with a ‘pipe opener’ after dressage on the Friday afternoon. Gubby said ‘Xavier is a strong and electric horse’ so he puts a lot of work into him to keep the extra fizz to a minimum! The technical training involves weekly dressage training with Lizzie Murray throughout April and showjumping training with William Fox-Pitt. Xavier is a keen horse in the ring, sometimes making up too much ground in combinations. Practising grid exercises at home helps him to shorten his stride in doubles and trebles, especially if the course builder likes to use short distances.

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The horse’s well-being

Joseph will turn ‘Frankie’ out every day on his own so he can have a pick of grass, relax and feel the sun on his back. Joseph chooses not to put protective boots on when turning Frankie out because he tends to be sensible in the field and he would rather keep the legs cool. Regular massages and some physiotherapy throughout April also help get Frankie in the best physical condition possible.

Gubby entrusts the multi-skilled Sue Devereux to keep Xavier in good condition. Sue is an equine vet, chiropractor and acupuncturist who will treat Xavier 2-3 times this April using a variety of techniques. In the stable, Xavier wears a magnetic rug and magnetic boots to optimise blood flow and recovery. He is turned out ‘bootless’ from the time he is ridden in the morning until 8pm when the horses get late feeds. This turnout time helps Xavier chill out and unwind.

Feeding

Joseph is very intuitive and he judges visually and by the feel of the horses on whether their feed needs increasing or decreasing. He monitors each horse closely to ensure it is fed the right mix of hard feed, haylage and supplements. Joseph slightly increases the feed on Frankie’s hardest days of work. Two weeks before Badminton Frankie’s feed regime will be set and won’t change leading up to the event. Joseph uses top quality feeds, Mervue supplements and he brings his own haylage over to Badminton from his base in Northern Ireland.

Like Joseph, Gubby also uses quality supplements to support the nutritional requirements of his horses.  Gubby uses an organic lucerne which is soaked first and helps keep Xavier hydrated, in addition to using high quality linseed, a balancer and electrolytes. Xavier receives 3 feeds a day whilst having his weight, condition and energy closely monitored. He can very quickly go off his food at competitions so it is a fine art making sure he gets what he needs!

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Rider Fitness

Joseph rides all day long from the moment he wakes to the end of the day. He regularly competes 5 horses a day, even at Intermediate and Advanced level, meaning he is extremely fit from his time in the saddle. However, Joseph does extra core stability exercises to help improve his position, balance, core and overall fitness. He is following a 6 week core stability programme and he does the exercises before bed. Did you ever wonder what gives Andrew Nicholson, otherwise known as ‘Mr Stickability’ his amazingly secure seat? The answer is having a rock solid core.

Gubby is in the saddle riding horses back to back all day until the moment he gets home. Having two young children means most of his evening is spent overseeing bath-time and coaxing them to go to sleep! Gubby focuses on eating as healthy as possible, cutting out sugar and only has the occasional drink at special occasions, in order to maintain his perfect competition weight. His wife Sarah is an organic girl so the family gets fed very well!

 

Rider Mindset

Gubby has previously entered Badminton twice but sadly had to withdraw the horses before the event on both occasions. Combining this with a good Burghley experience in 2016 for this duo, Gubby feels ready. He is ‘in a good space, riding well and has a good partnership’ with his ride, Xavier.

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Increasingly, top athletes are using Sports Psychologists to help give them the competitive edge. People talk about ‘marginal gains’ and this simply means that if you have a group of athletes, in this case riders, who are all equally talented on paper with equally talented horses, the rider who wins is the person who performs best on the day. Good sleep and being well rested, thriving under pressure, feeling confident, and focusing only on your performance and not worrying about those around you, are all factors that determine a rider’s overall performance. Doing these things well can make all the difference.

Joseph works with Charlie Unwin, Olympic Performance Psychologist across five sports. Since working with Charlie at the start of 2017, Joseph has been out winning most weekends this season and has never looked better! The work with Charlie helps Joseph to focus on what matters most when it comes to performance and to successfully block out all other distractions.

Horse Scout would like to thank Joseph and Gubby for sharing some of their practises and we wish them the best of luck for May! We look forward to an exciting four days of competition and wait in anticipation to see the new cross country course designed by Eric Winter. Only one question remains- who will be holding the famous Badminton trophy come Sunday afternoon?

 

Are you a member of Horse Scout yet? Sign up now for FREE www.horsescout.com

 

 

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.

Horse_Scout_professional_Giovanni_Ugolotti

Giovanni Ugolotti Talks

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Giovanni Ugolotti the Italian Event Rider, Gloucestershire, 33

The international event rider talks to Horse Scout about his top horses, his favourite bloodline and what makes a good event horse.

 Tell us about your top horse Oplitas.

He’s a 15-year old, 17hh bay gelding by the thoroughbred Fines, and out of the Hanoverian Golf I mare, Berganza, full brother of Armada and Nereo. (see our blog about these two fabulous horses)
I’ve had him four years now (he was formerly produced and ridden by Andrew Nicolson) and he is really good cross country. He is quite sensitive and, although perhaps naturally a girl’s ride, I get on well with him — but you need to be on the right side of him! He is quite grumpy in his stable, stroppy about being groomed, doesn’t like attention and is happiest in the field!

So Oplitas clearly has good breeding — do you think that’s essential in an event horse?

I always look at the percentage of blood. For me, a 4-star eventer has to have about 65%-70% thoroughbred — and the brain to want to do the job… For something less serious you don’t need as much blood.

So do you have a favourite blood line?

At the moment I like the German thoroughbred, Duke of Hearts, and I have three of its offspring in the yard. They have enough blood to be a proper event horses, good brains to be trainable and they are good jumpers too.

What are your top tips when buying an event horse, other than its bloodline?

You can look at a video of them — they have to be well put together — but at the end of the day you need to sit on them and feel them. And they must have a good (trainable) brain.

Tell us about some of your other top horses.

He’s been off a year following a bone chip to his stifle, but we have started bringing Stilo Kontika (Condios/Blue Labamba) back into work and hope to start competing him in the autumn. He was ranked best horse for the Italian team in 2014, placed 5th at a CCI 3star and took me to my first Europeans in Malmo (double clear). He is really strong — and sometimes is a struggle to hold him cross country! Then there’s DaCapo 277, a 17hh, 10-year old gelding out of Duke of Hearts XX. He did his first advanced at Little Downham in June and he will be my best on the flat and a really good jumper.

So, Giovanni Ugolotti How/why did you become a professional rider?

I began riding at around six but it wasn’t until I joined the army at around 18 or 19 that my professional career with horses really began. I had planned to stay for one year but ended staying for six. Most of my training came from there, we were riding a lot of young horses up to advanced level. I’m lucky that my job is my passion.

You’re engaged to fellow Olympic event rider Kathryn Robinson (Olympic rider for Canada). Tell us about your partnership and are you competitive with each other?

We sometimes have arguments but it’s great having someone to keep an eye on you every day. We are competitive but we push each other to do better. Kathryn would say my strengths are that I’m calm, collected and focused on job in hand. For me, I admire her patience. Our wedding is planned for next year.

Do you train with anyone else?

Once a week we train dressage with Henriette Anderson – 20 mins away from Cranford Stud.

So what’s your weekly schedule for the horses in competition?

We school on the flat twice a week, jump once, take the young ones cross country a week before an event and the good ones will go up the gallops every four days. They’ll all get a day off the day after a competition, then I’ll lunge them the day after that, normally in a pessoa.

And what’s the best tip you’ve ever been given?

That if you keep training and believing that what you do is right, the result will come eventually.

Why Horse Scout?

Innovation… when you look for a horse that you want to buy, you can enter all your criteria, listing everything from its height to the level it’s at… You can also network and promote yourself as a rider.

Find out more on Horse Scout

To find out more about Cranford Stud Eventing and to view Horse Scouts Professional Profile page for Gianono Ugolotti use this link.
Giovanni has an amazing track record and has horses for sale from his yard in Gloucestershire listed on his Horse Scout Profile Contessa V is one of them.  If you are looking for a Stunning black 16’2″ mare who is just 7 years old this Hanovarian by Conteur out of a Medoc mare is described as  ‘delightful’ and ‘very easy to do’. This horse already has 24 foundations points and has been ridden by an 18 year old.
Catherston Liberator Thoroughbred Event Stallion

A Thoroughbred Stallion for Eventing Catherston Liberator

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A Thoroughbred Stallion for Eventing Catherston Liberator is the ideal improver Stallion

A Thoroughbred Eventing Stallion with so many strings to his bow.  Not only has he had a very successful career in a wide range of disciplines but his progeny too are showing clear star quality themselves.

Top sire young horses aged 4-8 ranked 14 (296 points) and 10th with 397 points in 2013 with British Eventing

Catherston Liberator shows just why he is the thoroughbred stallion for eventing with his own concrete career in the event world gaining  66 points British Eventing and in the money at every event in his last season and taking 12 points for each of his last three wins at Longleat, Wilton and Somerly Park Intermediates.

 

In 2007 cousins, Catherston Dazzler (x Welton Gazelle Catherston Liberators Grand dam) and Catherston Liberator where both ranked in the Futurity Stallion Rannkings for three progeny with the highest scores as Dressage Sires

 

Catherston Liberator is an impressively well made stallion with the classic good looks of the best of thoroughbreds. His head and neck are set well on a good shoulder with a great coupling front to back and he stands four square.  He raced for eight years proving just how good his conformation is and how well his lovely well made legs have served him.

A Career that proves Catherston Liberator is the right Throughbred Stallion for Eventing Breeding

He followed racing with a career in Dressage (435 points: Advanced) and also taking a fair sized pot in the showjumping arena (£346: Grade C) and finished at the top of his game in Eventing (66 points: Advanced). Not content to rest on his laurels he has since been a schoolmaster at Advanced Medium for Jennie Lorsiton Clarks daughter and also taken the ribbons in Veteran Classes at the National Hunter Show classes too.

He has returned from Langaller Farm in Bovey Tracey, after five years, to stand at Catherston Stud and would make a valuable contribution to both amateur and professional breeding programmes.

Breeding that makes a Thoroughbred Stallion right for Eventing

Catherston Dazzlers’ sire Liboi ran 71 races both on the flat and over hurdles. He won 10 races and was placed in 23. That is a seriously impressive success rate!.  He was also a tough thoroughbred who retired sound despite an intense career on the track. He certainly deserved his Champion TB Stallion at the Ponies of Britain Show in both 1984 and 85.  He also took the reserve Champion (over 14.2hh) at the Essex County Show in 1987.

Loboi sired winners in both flat and hurdle racing and also in the show ring.  His other noteworthy progeny is the Graded Stallion Grand Prix Dressage Catherston Humbug.

His dam, Catherston Jetstream, had great breeding lines.  By the Dutch horse Jashin, who was sire of Olympic horse Sunny Boy and Beau Bravado.  Catherston Jetstream was a very successful Show Jumper with earning £2,000 in winnings.  Catherson Jetstream bred 5 foals. Her own progeny taking top places at Futurity  and her daughter Catherston Dream Machine bred Catherston What A Dream, a sliver medal British Warmblood who competed at Small Tour and also Catherston Springstream who took Champion Hunter as a foal and is successfully competing BSJA.

 

For Breeders looking for Catherston Liberator , he stands at the Catherston in Stockbridge, Hampshire and has a Stallion profile on Horse Scouts’ website.  Use this link to find out more about his successful progeny.

 

http://134.213.137.168/horses/profile/280

Tamarillo

Tamarillo: Such Sad News

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It is so sad to hear that the legendary Event Horse Tamarillo has been put to sleep.  William Fox Pitt rode this wonderful horse to victory eventing at the top eventing venues, both nationally and internationally.

He was not, according to William, the easiest of rides…but it seems he was consistent and William certainly made the best of him. Looked after by The Fox Pitts’ wonderful head girl Jackie Potts at the Fox Pitts yard in Dorset, Jackie played a large part in his life. William said “he had an incredible presence, he was one in a million and I feel very lucky to have partnered him for all those special years” and there are many in the event world who will mourn his passing. Horse Scout would like to pass on its own sympathies to William, The Guiness’ and to Jackie Potts in particular.

Tamarillo was bred at the Biddesdon Stud by the Guinness family. Having started his career with Diana Burgess at Tweezledown in 1997 Tamarillo had nine years at the top of his game. William took the ride on him in 1999 and his eventing career went from good to brilliant after his first three day event in 2000 where he took 1st at Blarney Castle CCI** and also 2nd at Blenheim in the ***.

Two years later Team GB took bronze at the World Equestrian Games in Athens; the same year that he also won Badminton, the worlds seminal **** course.

He went on to take impressive prizes for William and the Guinness’s, including Team Gold at the Blenheim European Eventing Championships in 2005, Team silver at the World Equestrian Games, Aachen in 2006 and he finished his career with a 1st at Burghley CCI**** in 2008.

This impressive Gelding was out of Mary Guiness’s eventing mare Mellita (campaigned by Lucinda Green) who is also the dam of their lovely part arab event stallion Persiflage. His Sire is a Polish Thoroughbred endurance Stallion called Tarnik who was just over a 1/4 Arab and won had the 26-mile Arab Horse Society Marathon.(find out more about Persiflage here on his Horse Scout stallion listing).

For the breeding world and Biddesdon Stud it was apparent that Tamarillo had a good genetic make up and in 2013 the Guiness family were delighted to welcome Tomatillo, Tamarillos’ clone, into the world.  He was born in New Mexico and has now moved, with his surrogate dam to a stud farm in New Jersey.  The Biddesdon Stud will, in time, bring him home to the UK.  He is a colt foal and whilst his competitive career is not, as yet, mapped out, it is certain, however, that, all things being equal, Biddesdon Stud will be breeding from him.