It will be a case of third time lucky for Kate Honey at this year’s Mitsubishi Motor Badminton Horse Trials (2-6 May).
“I had a couple of horses qualified a few years ago but then they got injured and that was that,” says Kate, who is a full-time eventer based in Lambourn. “I’ve ridden at Badminton the Burghley Young Event Horse qualifiers and helped friends competing in the four-star a few times so I know my way round, but to actually be going there now to compete myself is really exciting.”
Kate has owned her Badminton mount, Fernhill Now Or Never (or Hugo as he is known at home) since he was five, some 10 years ago.
“I bought him from Carol Gee at Fernhill Sport Horses in Ireland — Carol has known me since I was tiny,” explains Kate, who spent her a few years living in the USA when her family moved there when she was 11. “I loved his jump and clicked with him straight away.”
At the time, Hugo had completed a couple of EI100 and novice events, but Kate was responsible for the majority of his production. Since then, the pair have gone on to represent Great Britain in the CIC2* European Championship in 2011 and they also have two four-star completions under their belts; both Luhmuhlen and Pau in 2017.
“He’s been great to produce up the levels, but we’ve taken it relatively slowly,” says Kate, who trains with Pammy Hutton, Richard Waygood and Tracie Robinson. “He flew up to three-star as a nine-year old, but since then we’ve consolidated our form and given him time.”
As a character, Kate says that Hugo is “quiet”.
“He keeps himself to himself and lives at the bottom of the yard. He’s not bothered about fuss,” she laughs.
Kate, like many other eventers this year, has struggled to compete with event abandonments.
“It makes things slightly more stressful in the run up to Badminton but everyone is in the same boat,” she admits. “Hugo has plenty of mileage so I’m confident in his capabilities, and we also had a good open intermediate run at Belton.”
As far as Badminton aims go, Kate is focused on completing and “taking in the whole experience.”
“I’m looking forward to the cross-country as Hugo is brave, a good jumper and always wants to try. But he takes confidence from his rider, so I will have to make sure I can do that. Dressage is probably his weakest phase as he gets nervous, but with our draw of 24, we will have a Thursday dressage which should mean there is slightly less atmosphere.”
Read the full Badminton preview in Horse & Hound magazine, out on Thursday 26 April.