It’s one thing to rack up a big score or significant victory on your own horse, but quite another when it’s a last-minute catch ride on somebody else’s. We take a look back at some of the more notable catch ride triumphs…
Mark Todd and Horton Point
This remains one of the greatest catch ride stories in history. When Lynne Bevan broke her collarbone the weekend before Badminton in 1994, she asked Mark Todd, who had been helping her, to take on the ride on the 16-year-old Horton Point. The pair were drawn first, but lay second after dressage and moved up to the top spot after the cross-country, before jumping clear on the final day to claim victory.
John Whitaker and Buddy Bunn
The mighty John Whitaker winning the British Derby at Hickstead is hardly new — 2004 was the fourth time he had taken the title. But this time it was with Douglas Bunn’s Buddy Bunn, a horse that he had ridden for the first time only the day before. The horse had already won at the Hickstead meeting with William Funnell earlier in the week, but after a groin injury ruled William out of riding in the Derby it was John who took up the reins and, incredibly, went on to win.
Chris Burton and TS Jamaimo
Completing a five-star on your dressage score is super impressive, let alone when it’s on a strange horse. But that’s exactly what Britain-based Australian Chris Burton managed to achieve when he took up a catch ride on Stephanie Pearce’s TS Jamaimo, when the horse’s planned rider Will Enzinger broke his leg falling off a novice horse. Chris managed to finish on his dressage score to win the Adelaide CCI5* in 2013, and the story had an even better conclusion as following the victory, a group of owners purchased the horse for Chris to ride.
Matthew Sampson and Topflight True Carlo AND Top Dollar VI (pictured)
Showjumper Matthew Sampson has proved himself to be something of a catch ride specialist — in 2017 he won the British Speed Derby at Hickstad on Topflight True Carlo, taking over the ride from Christy Kemp as of the day before. But whereas Matt had previous experience of riding the horse, when it came to his 2018 Liverpool Puissance joint winner, Top Dollar VI, he had never jumped the horse before.
Matt was asked by Top Dollar’s owner/rider Laura Renwick if he would jump the gelding in the Puissance less than an hour before the class. Unfazed, Matt went on to clear 2.20m (7ft 2.6ins) to share victory with Michael Pender and Hearton Du Bois Halleux.
Katie Common and Heather Jock Of Fourmerk
The ridden Highland pony championship at the Royal Highland show is a title all breed enthusiasts want to win, and in 2018 it went to Katie Common, who had picked up a catch ride on Jane McNaught’s Heather Jock Of Fourmerk just days before the show after Jane was injured in a fall. Katie and the nine-year-old gelding were pulled in eighth but rose to take the title — Katie’s first championship win at the Royal Highland.
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Charlotte Dujardin and Erlentanz
We’re so used to seeing Charlotte Dujardin produce beautiful winning dressage tests that her 77.57% grand prix victory at 2019’s Myerscough Premier League hardly seemed out of place. But it was, in fact, with Erlentanz, the usual ride of fellow grand prix rider Sonnar Murray-Brown, who had just broken his leg and temporarily handed the reins to Charlotte. Despite being so new to each other, the Charlotte and Erly quickly cemented their fledgling partnership with more high scores at the Keysoe CDI shortly afterwards, followed by Royal Windsor Horse Show, Bolesworth International and Aachen.
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