Ollie Finnegan rode former racehorse Rivage D’Or to victory in the Bicester with Whaddon Chase’s Silver Spur hunt ride on Saturday, 22 April at Southam, Northants.
The 31-year-old – who, along with second-placed Rowan Cope, was part of the winning Relentless team at the National Team Chase Championships recently – was scoring his first hunt ride victory.
Rivage D’Or, a French-bred 12-year-old who won the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival when trained by Tony Martin, came to Ollie’s Leicestershire yard just over a year ago.
“This ride a year ago [when he finished second to Dominic Gwyn-Jones] was the first thing we did together,” said Ollie, who runs Leicestershire Hunter Hirelings with his wife Rachel, who also completed the Silver Spur. “He didn’t do a lot this winter because I was so busy hunting, but he came up three weeks before the Fernie team chase, went to the National Championships and then came here.”
Rachel said: “Rivage D’Or is a little tiger. He’s not very big but very brave, athletic and never gives up.
“At home he is now very chilled out, kind and gentle in the stable, although he takes no getting fit as he’s such an athlete.
“But he’s changed a lot since we first had him; last year he was barely stoppable out hacking or in the arena. Now he’s not worried if the hunters lap him at home, but he’s still competitive when it counts.”
To celebrate their victory, the Finnegan’s went to the Horn & Hound Ball – held in aid of the Hunt Staff Benefit Society – with Rowan Cope, joint-master of the Pytchley, and his wife Lydia.
“Ollie and Rowen are great mates, but ultra-competitive too!” said Rachel.
Rowan rode Guiding George, who has only been in his yard for a week, into second, while Zoe Gibson finished third aboard Vicality.
Full report in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 27 April