Twenty-seven-year-old Nicky Hill heads to her first attempt at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials next week (1—5 May). Based in Worcestershire, she will partner her own 11-year-old, MGH Bingo Boy (or Bing to his friends).
Nicky didn’t come from a horsey family.
“I started to ride when I was four at a riding school and managed to get a pony on loan when I was 12,” she explains. “It wasn’t until I was 18 that I finally got my own horse, and he gave me the eventing bug.”
When she left school, Nicky combined her riding with studying for a degree in biology and sport science at the University of Worcester, but she now runs her own yard.
“I have my eventers in one yard and run a livery business with 16 horses at another.”
In 2016, Nicky found herself in a position to buy a new eventer.
“I managed to sell a nice horse I had as a showjumper, which meant I had the funds to buy a new horse to take eventing,” says Nicky. “I found Big and it was love at first sight.”
Bing, an Irish-bred horse, was originally imported to the UK by Padraig McCarthy and was then evented to intermediate level by amateur young rider, Megan Cummings before Nicky purchased him.
“I bought him as he was so forgiving, having been produced by an amateur,” explains Nicky. “I thought we would have fun together, but never thought we would get to five-star level.”
Nicky and Bing won their first event together, an intermediate, and have since followed this up with eight CCI4*-S completions, three CCI4*-L completions, ninth at the CIC3*-S European Championships and 20th place in the CCI5* at Pau last October.
“Every time Bing has stepped up a level I’ve thought to myself ‘oh God, he’s finding this easy’,” laughs Nicky, who trains with Richard Waygood and Karen Eacock. “He struggles on the flat as he has a weak canter and is very sensitive, but he tries his heart out. He can be funny with men too, but he knows he’s the best on the yard and is a totally spoilt brat!
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“I’m so excited to get to Badminton — I’m sure when we arrive it will all sink in. The cross-country course preview doesn’t look too bad, but it’s hard to tell from videos and pictures. I think if I can get Bing into a good rhythm and he clocks on to each fence, we will be fine.”
Don’t miss H&H’s Badminton preview issue, including cross-country course walk with world champion Ros Canter (out 25 April), and our form guide issue with details of every horse and rider competing (out 2 May).