BEHIND THE STABLE DOOR
Credit Kit Houghton
Class: The British Open Championship incorporating the Event Rider Masters
Stable name: Mr T
Rider: Sarah Cohen
Owner: Preci-Spark Ltd
Vital stats: British-bred 16.3hh 14-year-old gelding by Hand In Glove out of Welton Lady. 634 BE points.
In the beginning: Treason was bred by Vin Jones at his Preci-Spark stud in Leicestershire and Sarah, who was stable jockey at the time, backed and produced him from a four year old. He was a precocious youngster, sailing effortlessly through the grades and finishing fifth in his first CCI1* at six years old. He was runner-up in the CIC3*8/9yo at Blenheim two years in a row, 2010 and 2011, and finished 20th at Burghley the following autumn.
His rider says: “Treason and I have a fantastic partnership and I’ve always believed in him. He’s a lovely character; a real softie to be around. When I scaled down my operation and left Vin’s yard in 2014 he was the only horse I carried on riding. His routine changed dramatically as he was the only horse I had. He lapped up the attention and thought the sun shone out of his backside. He’s turned into a real family horse; my two children adore him. I hunted him last winter with the Fitzwilliam Hunt, which he loved. He lives for galloping across country and is brilliant in this phase.”
Competition record: 2nd Blenheim CIC3*8/9yo and 17th Boekelo CCI3* 2010; 4th Bramham CCI3*, 2nd Hartpury CIC3* and 2nd Blenheim CIC3*8/9yo 2011; 1st Belton CIC3* and 3rd Houghton CIC3* 2012; 19th Burghley CCI4* 2013; 4th Hartpury CIC3* 2015; 17th Chatsworth CIC3* and 3rd Barbury CIC3* 2016.
Festival record: 55th British Novice Championship 2008; 41st British Novice Championship 2009; 34th British Intermediate Championship 2010; 17th British Open Championship 2013.
Favourite pastime: Hanging out in the field, eating grass.
Dislikes: People that come to see him without bringing Polos.
And one more thing… Treason’s field buddy is a Shetland pony called Pip, who belongs to Sarah’s young daughter, Charlie.
Credit Fiona Scott Maxwell
Balladeer Miller Man
Class: The Smith & Williamson British Intermediate Championship
Stable name: Miller
Rider: Louise Harwood
Owner: Alli Haynes
Vital stats: Irish-bred 16.3hh grey gelding by Stormhill Miller out of Kintara Pride. 56 BE points.
In the beginning: Louise had already made one successful purchase from Allan McSweeney’s yard in Co Cork, Ireland, when she returned to the same stable in 2011 and found Miller. The pair have progressed from BE100 to advanced level, clocking up several wins along the way.
His rider says: “Miller grew rather a lot during the first winter I had him, so my initially well-matched horse turned into something rather bigger by the time I started eventing him as a five-year-old. Luckily I like them huge! He’s a very jolly horse; a go-go sort of a chap, who loves jumping and loves his job. He’s a machine to ride across country, although his dressage has taken a while to catch up. We joke that by the time he gets to Badminton he’ll be able to do a decent test!”
Competition record: 1st Bicton Arena intermediate 2015; 15th Chatsworth advanced and 18th Withington advanced 2016.
Festival record: First-time in 2016.
Favourite pastime: Going cross-country.
Dislikes: Dressage – he would rather be without it.
And one more thing… Miller jumped clear cross country at Luhmuhlen CIC3* in June, but had to be withdrawn on the final day due to an overreach.
Credit Fiona Scott Maxwell
Class: The Dodson & Horrell British Novice Championship
Stable name: Ringo
Rider: Georgie Spence
Owners: Jane Walter, Belinda Blanshard and Sue Vintcent
Vital stats: 16.3hh eight-year-old bay gelding by Solitair out of Miss Toogood. 39 BE points.
In the beginning: Ringo was originally produced by Vicky Brake and joined Georgie’s yard for the 2015 season. His owners, Jane Walter and Sue Vintcent, also owned Birthday Night – the four-star horse partnered by William Fox-Pitt, Harry Meade and, latterly, Georgie. Jane was looking for a rider to take Ringo up the levels and chose Georgie because of their previous relationship.
His rider says: “Ringo is Mr Consistent; one of life’s steady Eddies. He’s quite a quiet chap to handle, not the sort of horse that’s in your face the whole time. He has big paces and requires holding together, but he has a great temperament and is always willing to work with you rather than against you.”
Competition record: 1st Calmsden novice 2015; 1st Gatcombe (1) novice and 1st Pontispool Novice Regional Final 2016.
Festival record: First-timer in 2016.
Favourite pastime: Socialising with his friends. At the moment he’s particularly smitten with a show jumping mare in Georgie’s yard called Blue.
Dislikes: None. He’s very easy to please.
And one more thing… Ringo has an outstanding jumping record; he has jumped double clear at his last 16 events and has not had a pole down in the show jumping phase for more than a year.
Credit James Pyne
Class: The TopSpec Challenge for The Corinthian Cup, a National Restricted Novice Championship
Stable name: Boyce
Rider: Esme Mitchell
Vital stats: Dutch-bred 16.2hh eight-year-old grey gelding by Emmerton out of Kimberly II. 15 BE points.
In the beginning: Esme bought Donau as a five-year-old through an advertisement on the horse sales website, Horsequest. He had just come over from Holland where he’d done some low level showjumping. Esme viewed Boyce at Bicton Horse Trials, had him vetted the same day and took him home to Gloucestershire. The pair have progressed through the levels and clocked up double clears at four of their last six Novice outings.
His rider says: “As soon as I watched a video of Boyce I knew I had to have him. He had an amazing, elegant, powerful trot that I couldn’t tear myself away from. I never imagined I’d qualify for this championship this year. I rode in the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton in May and was planning a quiet season stepping up to Novice level, but Boyce has taken it all in his stride.”
Competition record: 1st Tweseldown (3) BE100, 1st Skipton BE100 Regional Final and 1st Shelford Manor (2) 2015; 40th Mitsubishi Motors Cup, 1stTweseldown (2) Novice and 2nd Nunney Novice 2016
Festival record: First-timer in 2016.
Favourite pastime: Being let off the lead-rope to eat “free range” around the lorry after the cross-country .
Dislikes: Birds, especially pigeons.
And one more thing… Esme has never been to The Festival before, not even to spectate. She runs a pub in the Cotswolds and only ever takes weekends off to compete.