British Eventing (BE) has launched a formal investigation following the claim that Bonza Chit Chat, four-year-old winner of this year’s Pavo BE Breeding Championships, is in fact a five-year-old.
According to the mare’s breeder, Gail Evans-Wass, Bonza Chit Chat (also known as Flirting) was born at Cross Stud, Colchester, in 1999.
“Bonza Chit Chat was bred by me,” says Gail Evans-Wass. “Her dam foaled on 30 May 1999, and I have the covering certificate.”
“The issue of the age of Bonza Chit Chat has been brought to our attention and we are investigating,” says Winnie Murphy from BE. “We take every horse registered on good faith that it is the age the owner or rider says it is. They have to sign a form saying that the information provided is correct – so this has quite serious implications.”
Prize-money for the championship, which was held at Tweseldown last month, stood at £1,000.
Flirting, out of the coloured mare Talk Talk, is one of the last by Thoroughbred Riva Marquee, who was put down on 12 January 1999.
Matt and Marie Ryan, who have campaigned the mare since last June, claim they registered Flirting as a 2000 foal on information they were given by Gail Evans-Wass.
“We don’t have any documentation, but we have e-mails [from Evans-Wass] stating that she was a 2000 foal, and when we picked her up last June we were again told she was a three-year-old,” says Matt. “If she is five, all we can do is apologise.”
“I think of my horses as ‘four turning five’ and so on, because they’re not January foals,” says Evans-Wass. “It’s not me trying to deceive. I have to go back to my paperwork all the time – the onus was on the Ryans to check with me.”
Marie Ryan says: “This obviously affects the breeding championships, but it’s also my whole reputation – I’ve been winning and participating in four-year-old classes.”