‘I just had to point and go’: eventing legend Ginny Elliot on her favourite ever rides

  • When everything goes right, when there is total harmony and a horse gives his all – those precious moments are what a partnership is all about. Eleanor Jones finds out about some unforgettable wins...

    “Even though it was a very long time ago, those are memories that will last forever,” says Ginny Elliot, who considers herself lucky to have had, in her stellar career, two standout rides that she’ll never forget. One was on Priceless the year they won Badminton in 1985, the other with Master Craftsman at the Europeans at Burghley in 1989, when they won gold.

    “It was rather like going along a railway track,” she says. “They were both so smooth and focused. Nothing went wrong; they did their job and all I had to do was point and go. It was quite extraordinary; they were so zoned in. If you look at the relationship that’s built up over the years, and the huge trust you have in each other; they were amazing. Never to be forgotten.”

    At the time, Ginny knows she may not have appreciated the magic of each round.

    “There’s so much going on, and so much to think about, and every time you landed over a fence, you were thinking about the next one but it would creep into my mind, ‘That felt amazing’. Then you finish the round and play it back to your team. As you close your eyes to sleep, you run over it again and again. I can still do that now.”

    Virginia Leng of Great Britain riding her horse Master Craftsman, the eventual champions, during the Badminton Horse Trials, circa May 1989. (Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty Images)

    “Like riding on a railway track”: Ginny on her 1989 European champion, Master Craftsman, who won Badminton that year

    Ginny always felt that the onus was on her to make the right choices.

    “I guess on those two occasions, I did and they rewarded me for it,” she says. “At the Europeans on ‘Crafty’, there was added pressure because we were last to go for the team, and for him to go like he did was the icing on the cake.”


    “Never to be forgotten” – Ginny reflects on her 1985 Badminton victory; one of two fondly held career highlights

    One more unforgettable moment was on Priceless, at Burghley, where there was a new fence: the Brandy Glass. Then chef d’équipe Malcolm Wallace told her not to take the direct route if she was on time, and even if she wasn’t, she didn’t have to risk it.

    “But my blinking watch had stopped halfway round!” she says. “I had no idea what the time was but he’d jumped so well, I thought, ‘I’m going the direct route.’ I can still see it. It was angle, angle, angle, super-difficult, and dear Priceless was perfection; he didn’t go an inch right or left.”

    Ginny on Master Craftsman

    “It comes from years and years of practice and training and trust and it’s very special. I’m privileged to have experienced those rides, with those horses in particular. I’ll never forget them, that’s for sure.”

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