In 1961, Anneli Drummond-Hay won the very first Burghley Horse Trials riding her incredible horse, Merely-A-Monarch, who later went on to win Badminton Horse Trials before showjumping at the top level. Anneli’s journey with the versatile gelding — who was just a six-year-old when he won Burghley — began when she advertised in Horse & Hound that she was looking for a potential event horse.
“I had umpteen answers but none of them fitted the bill,” said Anneli when she talked to H&H features editor Martha Terry on episode 47 of The Horse & Hound Podcast.
After a few months of searching, Anneli still hadn’t found the right horse, but a photograph of Monarch — which his breeders had sent over — resurfaced: “I had put the photo in the no good pile as he was only two-and-a-half at the time, but six months later I looked at it again.
“I went to have a look at him and from the moment I saw him galloping around in the field he was just magnificent. I just had to have him, even though he was a bit expensive. I scrimped and saved and managed to pay for him.”
Anneli remembers that Monarch had a naughty streak in him right from the beginning.
“In fact, he had this all his life,” she laughed. “He was sold as just broken but he’d already learnt to buck people off. He had such enormous power— his buck was as good as his jump. He was strong willed and if he didn’t want to go through anything, especially wet patches, he wouldn’t.
“I started driving him on long reins through funny places. He would buck, kick and moan but I didn’t mind when I was on the ground. Somewhere along the road we came to an agreement.”
Potential buyers flocked to try to buy the talented horse later in his career, like “bees to a honey pot”, including a racehorse trainer. Despite this, Anneli never sold him: “Monarch was so talented. I knew he was special when I bought him but I didn’t know how much so.”
You can listen to more from the legendary Anneli Drummond-Hay and hear about her career with Merely-A-Monarch here on episode 47 of The Horse & Hound Podcast or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.
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