Andrew Hoy has praised the attitude of his ride Vassily De Lassos, who ignored a loose dog chasing him to showjump clear at Gatcombe on Saturday (24 March).

The clearly unflappable nine-year-old finished third in the advanced intermediate section, his first start of this season, adding only 6.4 cross-country time-faults to his dressage score.

Andrew told H&H the dog accompanied him for most of his showjumping round.

“As I jumped fence four, I heard a lady calling out to a dog, I think it was called Jasper,” he said.

“I heard her and thought there was only one thing she could be calling for – and then I heard the dog barking.”

The small terrier-type dog stayed at Vassily’s heels as he took on the rest of the course.

“I thought I’d just have to continue and stay focused, and [Vassily] was really focused,” Andrew said.

“But the dog was focused on him. It was right on his heels and the further we got round, the closer it got; I was thinking ‘I hope it doesn’t bite him’.

“The last line was a treble that a lot of people were having down and as I was coming to it, the dog was right with me. I couldn’t go any quicker as I had to have him balanced so I just tried to ride him in a really forward manner, and keep him focused, but he was doing that himself.”

After his round, Andrew, who also won the section on Cheeky Calimbo, thought he would carry on towards the sound of the owner’s voice, in order to return her dog.

“She stopped calling but I identified her; she was the one standing very anxiously by the side of the arena!” he said.

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“I didn’t say anything and she said ‘I’m so sorry’ but I said it wasn’t a problem. It was very fortunate as the ground was quite holding and the horses had to be really focused and trying hard. But he’s the most wonderful jumping horse and wasn’t fussed by anything; I’m lucky to have him.

“It was interesting for me to have that extra challenge, and that he coped with it. I’ve got enormous respect for him, that’s for sure; if he can cope with that, he can probably cope with anything! It was a great result.”

Andrew plans to take Vassily, with whom he finished eighth in the eight- and nine-year-olds’ CIC3* at Blenheim last year, to a CIC3* in Poland over Badminton weekend, to be followed by a CCI3* the following weekend, then “all being well”, he will aim for Luhmühlen, for either the three- or the four-star there.

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