15 things you might not know about new British eventing champion, Ben Hobday

  • On Sunday (4 August), Ben Hobday was crowned the British champion at the 2019 Magic Millions British open championship at the Festival of British Eventing, Gatcombe.

    The class was won by New Zealand’s Jonelle Price and Classic Moet, but as the best-placed Brit in second place, Ben scooped the British Champion Trophy, with his own and Jane Chambers’ nine-year-old, Shadow Man II (pictured).

    To celebrate Ben’s new title, here’s 15 things you might not know about him…

    1. Ben is originally from Rossendale in Lancashire, but more recently set up camp near Morpeth in Northumberland.

    2. He was born on 28 April 1988, meaning he is 31

    3. He started riding when he was four and his early competition experiences included the show ring, with a first ridden win at Ponies UK.

    4. He married fellow eventer Emma Carmichael on New Year’s Eve at the end of 2016.

    5. He was a member of the Holcombe Hunt branch of the Pony Club and competed at the Pony Club Championships in dressage, showjumping and eventing.

    6. Ben first went to work as a working pupil for eventer Hannah Bate in Cheshire and then went on to work for William Funnell after Pippa Funnell offered him a role at their Surrey base when he was 17.

    7. In 2006 Ben won the under-21 national championships on Uptons Who and was selected for the British young rider squad, which culminated in team gold and individual bronze at the Young Rider European Eventing Championships in Kreuth.

    8. Ben won the Burghley Young Event Horse four-year-old final in 2010 with Shadow Boxer.

    9. Ben completed his first CCI5* in 2010 — this was at Pau, France on Gun A Be Good, where they finished 11th. In 2012 the pair contested their first Burghley, where they finished 33rd and won the best under-25 prize thanks to a double clear.

    10. In June 2015, Ben was diagnosed with an aggressive type of Lymphoma called Burkitt non-hodgkin’s lymphoma. In mid-November later that year, he announced on social media that he was in remission.

    11. Ben’s father, Steve, was a British national champion in motocross.

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    12. Ben is a massive hit on social media, thanks in part to his early creation of his hashtag, #yehboi. He has almost 85,000 followers on Instagram and 55,000 fans on his Facebook page.

    13. Ben is perhaps best known for his achievements with the half Clydesdale, Mulrys Error, who he first saw when the horse’s owner Sallie Ryle brought the gelding for lessons with Ben. He took over the ride in 2011 and between 2014 and 2018, the pair completed Burghley double clear, plus three Badminton completions, jumping a double clear in 2016, less than one year since Ben’s cancer diagnosis.

    14. Ben runs his horse and pony selling business, Shadow Sports Horses, alongside his eventing career

    15. Ben’s current top horse is Shadow Man, a Belgian-bred gelding, who Ben bought six years ago as an unbroken three-year-old. This nine-year-old by Fidjy Of Colours is something of a cross-country and showjumping machine, with super-smart paces too. This season alone he has finished second in the CCI4*-L at Ballindenisk, fifth at Bramham’s CCI4*-S and second in the CCIO4* Nations Cup competition at Strzegom, which were all good enough to earn the pair a place on the shortlist for the European Eventing Championships later this month.

    For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

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