Meet the coloured mare at the World Championships: ‘We call her Miss Perfect’

  • Canadian Dana Cooke made her eventing World Championships debut today on Mississippi, but she admits that it wasn’t love at first sight when she saw the unusually marked 12-year-old mare.

    “We weren’t planning to buy her because she’s a coloured mare and I didn’t expect she would come this far. I thought, ‘Mares are a little harder to sell and she’s coloured’,” said Dana after scoring 34.3 in her dressage test today.

    “But she just was so good and I actually ride a lot of mares now since I got her. She’s just become prettier as she’s got older and she has such a level personality and work ethic.

    “Everybody recognises her and we call her Miss Perfect – she generally doesn’t put a foot wrong.”

    Mississippi, who is by Cassini II, was bred in Germany by Markus and Leonhard Diez. Dana bought her from her trainer, US-based Australian Olympic medallist Clayton Fredericks, when she was a four-year-old.

    She explained: “I actually tried her when she was in quarantine [being imported to the USA, where Dana lives] and Clayton said I just needed to come and try her and I was sold.”

    Speaking about Mississippi’s personality, Dana said: “She’s very sweet and generally pretty quiet. She kind of picks and chooses who she likes. She’s never mean or anything, but if she doesn’t like you, she’ll just stay at the back of her stall. If she likes you, she always pricks her ears and comes up and says hello.”

    Dana came to Britain at the beginning of the year with the aim of running at Millstreet in Ireland – where the pair finished 21st in the CCI4*-L – and then staying on for a few months “to hopefully get selected for the World Championships, which obviously happened, but if not my back-up plan was Blenheim”.

    Dana has been based at Bill Levett’s Gloucestershire yard this year, alongside Clayton. Both Bill and Clayton have helped keep the syndicate-owned Mississippi fit while Dana has travelled back and forth to Canada and her home in North Carolina.

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