Twenty-three-year-old Imogen Murray will be the youngest British rider competing at this year’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (3-7 May), but she’s relishing the challenge ahead.
Imogen will be riding Ivar Gooden (or Charles as he is known at home), a 10-year-old, owned by Aivar Ward, that she has produced herself. The ride on Charles came about after a chance meeting in the pub.
“Aivar Ward bought Ivar Gooden as a four-year-old from Goresbridge sales in Ireland. When I bumped into Aivar in the pub he mentioned that he had a horse that needed sitting on so I went down and rode him. At the time he was for sale but I couldn’t afford him, so I left saying that if he ever wanted someone to ride the horse, to let me know. A week later Aivar rang me and asked if I wanted the ride on Ivar Gooden,” explains Imogen who is based in Leicestershire.
The pair have since enjoyed great success, culminating in 12th place in the CCI3* at Blenheim last September.
“Charles feels the best he ever has done,” says Imogen who runs her own event yard. “He’s a very good jumper and as he has grown up, he has become more rideable. He doesn’t like dressage but he’s improved a great deal and has learnt to accept we have to do it now!”
Imogen says that at home, her mount is known as ‘Sir Charles’.
“He thinks he’s king and is very particular — he will only let certain people do certain things with him,” she explains. “For example, if I tried to bath him, he would kick me, but he’s more than happy to let the grooms do it!”
Imogen says that she has visited Badminton twice in the past five years or so.
“Burghley has always been our local four-star, but as the possibility of me riding at Badminton grew, I’ve ventured down to watch,” she says. “I’ve watched the cross-country course preview too but as the course has changed so much this year [under the new course designer, Eric Winter], it is quite hard to imagine the fences. What I do know is that it looks big and bold which will suit Charles as he loves to gallop and jump — what I’ve seen hasn’t been enough to put me off just yet!” she laughs.
As far as goals go, Imogen would like to complete and ideally be in the top half.
“I was originally 15th on the waitlist so I had thought to myself that I probably wouldn’t get in. But when I got the call on Thursday morning (20 April), I thought ‘oh god, this is actually happening’,” admits Imogen. “Mum [Kim Murray] is a great supporter but there were a lot of tears from her when I got the call — she spent the whole of my first Burghley crying happy tears. I hope Badminton can give us some happy tears too.”