Sarnicol Blackstar is living proof that you don’t have to spend a fortune on a horse or pony to compete at this week’s LeMieux National Dressage Championships at Stoneleigh (14-17 September).

The 14.2hh eight-year-old black Welsh section D is owned by Lucy Lyne, who found him at Llanybydder sales in Wales five years ago.

“I went with a friend and told myself I definitely wasn’t going to buy anything,” explains Lucy. “I then drank some sloe gin, ended up bidding for ‘Alex’ and paid £361.05 for him.”

Lucy started Alex off but he ended up broncing her off frequently.

“I decided to send him to Jessica Keith, who is head girl for the Oppenheimers,” says Lucy, who is a paramedic in Portsmouth. That was three-and-a-half years ago.

“We started from scratch again with him,” explains Jessica. “He’s very opinionated but also talented. He’s also spooky but really there isn’t a bad bone in his body. He’s the funniest thing with a great character — he blows raspberries when he’s cross!”

Alex is now kept a short distance from the Oppenheimers’ yard and Jessica rides him once a week. The pair competed in the Backinaction prelim silver championship at Stoneleigh. They were 15th on a score of 68.10%.

“We thought we would go for it and see what happened,” says Jessica. “It’s all a bit of a surprise to be here.”

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“It’s terrifying watching them as an owner,” laughs Lucy.

Keep up to date with all of the news from the National Dressage Championships by keeping an eye on the Horse & Hound website, and don’t miss the full magazine report, out on Thursday 21 September.