Twitter congratulations poured in over the weekend as Sam Watson revealed that an intermediate win at Monart on Saturday makes his top ride Horseware Bushman the first horse to reach 1,000 points under the Eventing Ireland system.
The Watson family’s home-bred Bushman has been fourth at the young rider European Championships, completed two senior European Championships, two Badmintons (13th on his debut in 2010), one Burghley, the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky and has been reserve for the Irish team for the past two Olympics.
“He feels in the best shape of his life at 14 years old and all signs suggest that his best is yet to come!” said Sam. “His immediate goal is Badminton this spring.”
This success follows an inauspicious start to Bushman’s career, though, when Sam’s older sister Rozzie fell off the horse as a four-year-old in the warm-up at their first show and concussed herself — an incident which opened the door for Sam to take over.
Sam, 27, has based himself in Britain for the eventing season over the past few years, but this spring is competing from his parents John and Julia’s yard in Co Carlow, Ireland. His wife, Hannah “Sparkles” Bailey, is expecting their first child.
The Eventing Ireland system assigns points to a horse for wins and placings both in Ireland and elsewhere, including at national classes in Britain.
This is slightly different to the British Eventing (BE) points system, which only accounts for national events in Britain (held under BE rules), as well as international events (under FEI rules) all around the world.