From young event horse winner to five-star contender: meet the talented mare returning to Burghley

  • Harry Meade’s least experienced horse of his three rides at the 2023 Defender Burghley Horse Trials (30 August-3 September) is the five-star first-timer Cavalier Crystal.

    Harry and the Jack Of Diamonds daughter soaked up the atmosphere in the main arena and she came away with a promising score of 32.2 for her test on the afternoon of day one at Burghley.

    Although this is her first five-star appearance, the 13-year-old mare, who is owned by Charlotte Opperman, won on Burghley soil in the young event horse class as a five-year-old back in 2015 under Tiana Coudray.

    “This is her first crack at a five-star so I’m really pleased with that,” Harry says. “This year she’s been getting better and better. I did a load of intermediates with her in the spring and I also took her to Bramham, where she finished fifth. I’ve actually done nothing but intermediates with her since then in preparation [for Burghley] as I felt she needed her confidence. She just needed nurturing; she’s pretty experienced at four-star so this five-star year I decided to keep it a little bit easy for her.”

    Charlotte Opperman has had three horses with Harry over the years, including Wild Lone, Away Cruising and now Cavalier Crystal.

    “I found all three as youngsters,” says Harry. “Charlotte has done pretty well; two of them have become good five-star horses and we’ll see what Cavalier Crystal can do.

    “With a mare, you can’t be too strong and you have to be sensitive,” Harry adds. “I had to patiently wait for her today [in the dressage arena] and I’m delighted with her mark.”

    Prior to his performance with the mare, Harry had scored 36 with his first ride Away Cruising. When asked how he’d prepared for his second test of the day, Harry explained: “I felt I was in a good headspace this morning but as there’s a lot of preparation going into this competition, nerves are always brimming before fatigue sets in. I had a little power nap before I got on Crystal as I’d been on and off the horses all day. I had to slap myself around the face a little and say ‘come on, come on’.”

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