Millie Dumas has ridden at five-star level once before — the 26-year-old made her debut at the level in 2014 with Action Packed at Lumuhlen. But next week she will have her first go at galloping around the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (1—5 May).
Millie, who is a full-time rider based with her parents Robin and Katie at their smart cross-country schooling facility in Somerset, will be riding her own and Ellie Guy’s 14-year-old Artistiek.
“We bought ‘Artie’ when he was six from a dealer in the north — he hadn’t done any competing at that point,” explains Millie of the horse with whom she won a team silver medal at the 2013 young rider European Championships. “We later discovered that he had already been purchased by other people a couple of times and both times he was sent back as he was so quirky and very, very spooky. But we decided we would keep going with him and he’s turned into a cross-country machine.”
Millie said she was drawn to him as he “moved well, was a lovely model and an out-and-out jumper.”
“You can never let your guard down when riding him at home though — if anything has moved places in the arena, he will notice it and he has a wicked spook/spin in him. Thankfully he has become more professional over the years and knows when he has to behave at competitions.”
Millie admits that really the gelding, by Numero Uno, should have made it to Badminton a couple of years earlier, but injury prevented that from happening.
“He had to have a year off work in 2017 as he sustained a tendon injury. You never know how they will come back from those sorts of problems but he ran really well last season — although he’s 14, he feels like a spring chicken and is on the form of his life.”
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Indeed, in his six full runs last season, both nationally and internationally, the pair were never out of the top 20 and represented Great Britain at a couple of Nations Cups competitions too.
“We thought if we didn’t enter him for Badminton, we might not be able to again — who knows — but our main aim is to go and jump clear across country. We’re not going to win it, but I want to have a nice round for our first attempt,” says Millie. “If you have a good cross-country round at Badminton, that’s the main thing.”
Don’t miss H&H’s Badminton preview issue, including cross-country course walk with world champion Ros Canter (out 25 April), and our form guide issue with details of every horse and rider competing (out 2 May).