Our experts gaze into a crystal ball and predict who we think will be the biggest equine stars in 2018, across the disciplines
Para star Sophie Christiansen has nicknamed her new ride Amazing Romance after Prince Harry (“being ginger”, she explains). Just like his royal counterpart, the 17hh chestnut is set to be big news this year.
“He’s only eight but he’s sensible and has a phenomenal walk,” says Sophie of Harry. “It’s early days, but I’m aiming him for the World Equestrian Games [WEG] and Tokyo.”
Another one to watch is Hawtins Delicato (pictured, above), who will debut at grand prix in early 2018 and is earmarked as Carl Hester’s WEG and Tokyo ride. Charlotte Dujardin has guided the Diamond Hit eight-year-old though his career so far, claiming the inter II title at the nationals and a fistful of small tour victories.
We’re with Mark Todd as he likens his hot new prospect McClaren (pictured, above) to the mighty Charisma. “He’s small, dark brown and good looking,” says Mark. “The only difference is that this one jumps better!”
McLaren had an incredible year, finishing seventh at Beokelo. “If he hadn’t had a rail, he’d have been fourth — and that was my fault,” adds Mark, who sees “Super Mac” as a possible for WEG. “He’s brave and fast, with a great attitude. We’ll consolidate last year’s work in the first part of the season and then try Saumur or Tattersalls.”
Hello Mr President (pictured, above) should hit the headlines, hopefully for all the right reasons. Olympic team gold medallist Scott Brash has a promising bunch to pick from, but he really rates this athletic eight-year-old — winner of the young horse final at Valkenswaard in the Netherlands in 2016.
“He’s a top horse in the making,” says Scott, who is stepping up to bigger classes with the Comme d’Api Jr son as he turns nine. “He’s out of a pony mother, but he has a lot of quality.”
The smart money will be on the quirky but brilliant Might Bite (pictured, above) for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March. Trainer Nicky Henderson explains that confidence is key with the classy chaser.
“He’s big, brave and honest,” he says, admitting that the horse has his idiosyncrasies. “I like his sire, Scorpion, although Scorpion’s offspring need treating with delicate hands.”
With a solid run of wins under his belt, watch Might Bite pack a punch in 2018.
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Hevans Forever In My Life (pictured, above) should shine with producer Brett McKinnon. She stood reserve champion in the SEIB Search for a Star finals at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) with owner/rider Ellie Simmonds, prompting ride judge Katie Jerram-Humble to comment: “She rides well, with a good length of rein. I can see this pair going a long way.”
Ellie, a nail technician, will continue to compete the elegant six-year-old.
“She coped amazingly at HOYS,” says Ellie. “I had been training her in the dark back at home in Cornwall, though, because we don’t have arena lighting.”