‘It took him a while to realise he had to go over the jumps, not around them’: Gemma Tattersall on her Bicton five-star winner, Chilli Knight

  • Bicton five-star winner, Gemma Tattersall, reveals all about her emphatic victory on episode 70 of The Horse & Hound podcast and the horse behind the landmark triumph in her career to date; Chilli Knight. Gemma admits he wasn’t the most obvious candidate from her string of horses had she been asked to  predicted which one would bring her a five-star win.

    “It’s so funny looking back, because he was always quite a simple guy,” explains Gemma. “He always had a very positive outlook and he was always a happy person, never grumpy and nothing’s ever too difficult for him – he’s always trying and always wants to please. Even if he finds it physically difficult, he’s still going to try.”

    But looking back , Gemma admits Alfie’s slightly inauspicious start to his eventing career.

    “He was funny when he was a young man, because let’s just say it took him a while to realise that he had to go over the jumps and not around them when he was four years old,” she laughs. “He was hilarious because he just used to kind of bypass them and we would joke that he was a bit of a simple chap – it was a bit like ‘oh, well done Alfie, you’ve just jumped your first BE90 double clear’ and then suddenly we jumped double clear around his first novice, then his first two-star and suddenly he was actually looking like quite a cool little horse, but he was always kind of the underdog.”

    Gemma Tattersall: ‘he’s never let me down’

    Gemma said Alfie has never let her down during his eventing career so far.

    “He was always just a little horse that kept going out and kept winning a prize every time, but never sort of sparkled and never really caught anyone’s eye – he just was doing his job,” she explains. “And then he moved up to intermediate as a seven-year-old and was just fantastic, and it kind of just went on from there and he was third in his first CCI4*-L as an eight-year-old.

    “This year it’s just clicked and he’s the most wonderful horse – he has come into his own and he’s really clicking with the dressage now – he’s never going to lead the dressage, but he’ll score in the mid- to late 20s because he never does anything different other than what he’s told to do, and he’s never going to blow up or be naughty or spook – he’s always going to go in that arena and try his absolute best.”

    Gemma explains that Alfie’s strength is his jumping.

    “Jumping-wise he’s always been super and an incredible cross-country horse – he has always made the time at every single venue without even trying – without even blowing a candle out. And yes, he’s had the odd showjump down here and there, but actually if you look at his three-day record, he’s had one showjump down in all of his three-day events, so he’s pretty consistent.”

    Listen to Gemma Tattersall talking about her Bicton memories and so much more on episode 70 of The Horse & Hound podcast. 

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