Two side saddle champions will lead in the winners of the Topham Chase on Ladies’ Day at Aintree’s Grand National meeting next week (4 April).

Morgan Schive, who won the Alexander James picture of elegance side saddle championship at the National Show, Aintree, last July, and reserve champion Jo Hales will take the honours.

Jo’s National Show ride, Llanarth Hornpipe (pictured below), on whom she started side saddle following a successful eventing career, was put to sleep last year after an old injury flared up. So she will partner Laura Tylor’s Cairn Dhu, 20, a former Flat racehorse, who has evented up to intermediate and hunted the past 5 seasons with the Bicester with Whaddon Chase.

Winning Post

“He’s a retrained racehorse, so he’ll be used to the atmosphere,” said Jo, a vet at Buckingham Equine Vets. “I’m desperate that it all goes well so that next year’s champions can enjoy the same privilege. It’s a fantastic prize for us — something that money can’t buy.”

Morgan Schive, 18, has opted to borrow Sue McKim’s Irish draught stallion Cos Me Is Black — who was featured as an H&H hunt hero this season — as Nightwatchman might “find the occasion too much to handle”.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Morgan, an equine management student at Hadlow College. “And a chance to showcase side saddle, which is my passion.”

This article was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (27 March 2014)