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Ride of my life: Charlotte Bathe

Charlotte Bathe recalls her ride on the Cool Customer at Burghley in 1992

I bought Charlie, The Cool Customer, as a four, rising five-year-old after he’d done a bit of show jumping, hoping he would make a top-class event horse.

When I got him home, he wouldn’t go through puddles on the road, although he would always jump into water.

He was the most difficult horse on the flat I’ve ever had, because he used to get desperately uptight. He really taught me patience, because if you even thought about getting cross with him you’d pay for it for weeks afterwards.

We used to callhim the best travelled event horse, because he was so tricky that he needed lots of runs. I had to take him to every dressage show I could find so that he didn’t think the cross-country always came afterwards.

He really was a cool customer across country, though. By the time he won Burghley as a 12-year-old, he’d mellowed slightly, although he was still naughty and I could never get away with doing less than a couple of hours’ work before the dressage.

The biggest problem was that he was so strong across country, I couldn’t hold him. A W-mouth snaffle was the only thing that worked.

For Burghley in 1992 Charlie was spot on. I worked him three times before the dressage and every time I had to get off and lead him back to the stables because he was so full of himself.

In the test, he got a nine for his entry, which for us was unheard of. The cross-country was brilliant and I did all the direct routes.

Charlie was renowned for having a couple of show jumps down, so I was thrilled to be in the lead after the cross-country. On the final day he only had the last fence down and that didn’t matter, because I had one in hand over Blyth Tait.

The win was so special for everyone, not just me. Charlie really belongs to my parents, Peter and Mary Hollingsworth, and my brother and sister, James and Victoria, used to come and watch – so he’s a real family horse.

Don’t miss this week’s Horse & Hound (24 October) where Caroline Nelson talks about her ‘ride of a lifetime’ at HOYS on Miss McGredy.

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