‘She won’t walk over a pole on the ground’: find out more about Badminton winner Greenacres Special Cavalier

  • Greenacres Special Cavalier, an untypical stamp of an event horse, is making her mark at the top of the sport under British-based New Zealand rider Caroline Powell. We caught up with the horse’s connections in late 2023, prior to her 2024 Mars Badminton Horse Trials victory. Here is what you need to know about this talented mare with the heart of a lion.

    Need to know

    Year foaled: 2013
    Breeding: by Cavalier Royale out of Greenacres Touch (by Touchdown)
    Breeder: Michael Callery
    Rider: Caroline Powell
    Owner: Chris Mann
    Greatest achievements: third Ballindenisk CCI4*-L, ninth Bramham CCI4*-S, third Blenheim CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-olds, fifth Pau CCI5* 2022; seventh Aachen CCIO4*-S, first Ballindenisk CCI4*-S, sixth Maryland CCI5* 2023, winner Badminton CCI5* 2024.

    How rider Caroline Powell found Greenacres Special Cavalier

    “My partner Greg Kinsella and his mother Gwen were looking at horses in Ireland – I got a call from Greg saying, ‘You’ve got to come and see this mare now’. A friend of mine and I jumped on a plane and went to try her. ‘Cav’ was a just-broken four-year-old, big and green, but felt like she had a good enough motor.

    “She’s not your typical stamp of an event horse, but she’s got a heart of a lion and nice paces. Cav is a princess in character – she’s got the most beautiful head and she knows she’s talented and certainly holds court over everyone on the yard.

    “She went to Le Lion d’Angers as a six- and seven-year-old – she’s always said yes to the next step. She loves her job and every day she wants to work.

    “She is a bit headstrong and the pair of us are quite a good match – we’ve had discussions where we’ve come to a mutual agreement! She’s not a mare you can tell what to do – you have to say ‘Pretty please’ and play a bit of a game. She won’t walk over a pole on the ground, but she quite happily goes out and jumps around big tracks and is an out-and-out jumper. She’s been allowed to have her own character and we’ve worked with it – if her personality had been taken on, she probably wouldn’t be where she is now.

    “Our 30th place at Badminton in 2023 didn’t look great on paper, but she came on so much for the experience and we knew what we had in her after that. Maryland, Pau and Blenheim were all the most amazing experiences. She has been the most brilliant horse for her owner – Chris Mann’s motto is #lovingthejourney and we certainly are.

    “It would be very exciting to get to the Olympics, but we’ll take things one day at a time.”

    Groom Tristan Hudson on taking care of this special mare

    “I went to Caroline for some lessons and she asked me if I would like to groom on a freelance basis for her at the beginning of 2022, so I’ve been involved with Cav since then.

    “She is pretty unique. She knows exactly what she wants and when she wants it – and it’s far easier to appease her! For her to perform as well as she did at Pau as a nine-year-old was incredible and our trip to Maryland was unbelievable – you only take special horses on those trips, which makes it all the more amazing.

    “I always get nervous watching and want them to do well. All I hope for is for them to come back safe and sound – that’s all that matters.

    “Cav always seems to rise to the occasion – she knows what the job is and wouldn’t let you down, that’s for sure.”

    The judge’s view, by Judy Hancock

    “I first judged Greenacres Special Cavalier at Houghton four-star in 2021. Like many mares, she is a little long in the back and croup high, and therefore at that stage she was struggling with self-carriage and the uphill balance required for the level. However, when I judged her at Maryland in the autumn of 2023, there was a massive improvement.

    “Her paces are correct, but not the biggest, but she is rideable and Caroline is able to get the best out of her now. She is accurate, has correct rhythm, is in a good balance and is good in the contact. Consequently no marks are thrown away. She also produced four clean and straight flying changes at Maryland, which is still quite rare at five-star level.

    “She is a powerful and scopey jumper and, with her rideability, she must be a joy across country. Her showjumping is consistent and she jumped a super clear round in Maryland. With these assets, maybe we will be seeing her in Paris in 2024? She and Caroline are certainly worthy of it.”

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