The making of an Olympic champion

  • Born on 5 May 1965 in Herefordshire, Leslie Law grew up in a council house and did not start riding until he was 10 — to compete with his younger brother, Graham, who also still events. Their father drove a lorry for a living, and, while giving his sons all the support he could, financially, this wasn’t easy.

    Through his school years, Leslie rode at Bill Bryan’s point-to-point and showing yard, and was on the Golden Valley branch Pony Club teams. In 1982, he rode in his first affiliated event at Crookham.

    Aged 18, he spent two years in America as a working student, producing show jumpers for Ian Silitch and Revel Guest.

    In 1986, Leslie finished 42nd at Burghley, his first four-star, on the stallion Welton Apollo. This partnership went on to take eighth place at Badminton in 1989.

    Leslie was selected for the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 on New Flavour, following a fourth placing at Badminton that spring. Sadly, New Flavour went lame in America and didn’t compete.

    Four years later, Leslie was again selected for the Olympic team, this time with Shear H20, on whom he had been runner-up at Badminton in 2000. Their seventh place contributed to Britain’s silver medal.

    Between Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, Leslie has racked up eight top-five placings at four-star level. He has been a mainstay of the British team with the two grey brothers, Shear H2O and Shear L’Eau, picking up two European Championship team golds (2001 and 2003) and a team bronze at the 2002 World Championships. But until the final verdict handed him gold in Athens in the summer of 2004, he’d never won an individual championship medal.

    Leslie’s stable for 2005

    Shear H20 (Solo) 14yo grey by Stan The Man, 1,777 BE points
    Owners: Shearwater Insurance Syndicate, Jeremy and Susan Lawton
    Career highlights: 2nd Badminton 2000, 3rd Badminton 2002, 5th Burghley 2004
    Strengths: work rate at competitions, his ability to put in more than he’s got
    Aim in 2005: Badminton

    Shear L’Eau (Stan) 12yo grey by Stan The Man, 1,359 BE points
    Owner: Shearwater Insurance Syndicate
    Career highlights: Olympic gold medal Athens 2004, 5th Kentucky 2003,
    5th Burghley 2002
    Strengths: he’s not a world-beater in any one phase but his consistency in all three means he’s usually placed
    Aim in 2005: Badminton

    Coup De Coeur (Fred) 10yo black by Joli Coeur, 180 BE points
    Owner: Keith Scott
    Career highlights: 12th Blenheim 2003, 11th Saumur 2004, 12th Pau 2004
    Strengths: the ultimate event horse — a fabulous mover with a great jump
    Aim in 2005: Kentucky

    Matt Butler (Matt) 15yo bay by Rhett Butler, 641 BE points
    Owner: Diana Fitzroy
    Career highlights: 5th Blenheim 1999, 5th Chatsworth 2003
    Aim in 2005: fun horse being targeted at one-days

    Another Garrison (George) 10yo bay by Mandalus, 306 BE points
    Owners: Diana Dickinson and Lynne Potter
    Career highlights: 11th Bramham 2004
    Strengths: cross-country
    Aim in 2005: three-star

    Artic Fox Too (Graham) 8yo grey, Australian TB, 97 BE points
    Owners: Rodney and Heidi Day
    Career highlights: 5th Windsor, 9th Weston Park
    Strengths: jumping
    Aim in 2005: three-star

    Best Wishes (Sal) 8yo bay mare by Jashin, 52 BE points
    Owner: Judy Graham
    Strengths: she missed 2004 season through injury but is a very exciting prospect
    Aim in 2005: two-star

    Kif D’Estruval (Kev) 6yo bay gelding by Epervier Bleu, 20 BE points
    Owner: John Hales
    Strengths: will soon upgrade to intermediate. Has a big future
    Aim in 2005: two-star

  • Read Horse & Hound’s full interview with Leslie Law in the 18 November, ’04 issue. To purchase a back copy (tel: 020 8532 3628)
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