Burghley first-timers: Alex Bragg — ‘I stopped riding to play semi-professional rugby and now I’m taking two horses to my first four-star’

  • Life is busy for Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (1-4 September) first-timer Alex Bragg.

    He is married with three daughters all in primary school and runs a yard while also dedicating half of his life to his farriery business.

    But Alex almost didn’t event at all.

    “I did Prince Phillip Cup at Pony Club and a bit of showjumping, but I stopped riding altogether to play semi-professional rugby for seven years,” explains Alex who trained as farrier at the same time.

    “I then met my wife-to-be, Simmone and when she fell pregnant 12 years ago, she asked me if I could take on the ride of her event horse and that’s where it all began,” says Alex.

    Since then he hasn’t looked back and not only is he making his four-star debut at Burghley, but he is doing it with two self-produced horses — Redpath Ransom and Zagreb.

    Both horses were off in 2015 due to separate small injuries.

    “They have both come back and had a great year this season, so we thought ‘why not?’ with regards to taking them to Burghley,” says Alex. “They’ve come up through the ranks very well but are both very very different characters.”

    Redpath Ransom (pictured top)  is an 11-year-old gelding owned by Michael and Naomi Roe and Debbie Nuttall.

    “He’s a typical man — he likes his own space and is quite content with solitude,” explains Alex. “We have been working very hard on the flat with him as at Bramham he got stage fright with all of the Event Rider Masters cameras filming — it’s difficult to get them used to that at home so he just needs to be exposed to similar environments as much as possible.”

    Zagreb is a 17.2hh 12-year-old owned by Sally Ellicott.

    “He is completely different to my other horse,” says Alex. “He is affectionate and loves company — he also historically has a better record in the dressage arena. I trust both horses implicitly though and we have a great partnership.”

    Alex has never been to Burghley before as a spectator.

    “I’m not nervous, perhaps due to my naivety — I’m just really raring to go,” he says.

    “I’ve watched the cross-country course preview which I’m not sure was an entirely good idea — the questions just keep coming after the first water.”

    Continued below…

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    With two rides, it will be a particularly tough day both mentally and physically for Alex.

    “I will need to work hard on keeping my concentration (and perhaps lay off the wine at lunchtime!),” he says.

    “It’s so exciting for the owners of my two horses. Getting to this stage is what I’ve worked for — I love that feeling of butterflies before a big event.”

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