‘It’s a dream come true and we’re just trying to enjoy it’: meet a five-star first-timer and her self-produced Badminton ride

  • British rider Rose Nesbitt is one of the younger competitors in the year’s Badminton Horse Trials field, an event that is presented by Mars Equestrian, at the age of just 24. She is riding her own 11-year-old EG Michaelangelo in what is their first ever five-star.

    “I’ve had ‘Jack’ since he was a five-year-old, when I bought him from Vicki Tuffs and Andrew Williams from GHF equestrian,” explains Rose, who is based near Ludlow in Shropshire. “I’ve done everything with him up to this point, which is makes it even more special to be here. I’m just trying to enjoy the whole experience.”

    Rose and Jack scored 33.3 in the first phase earlier today (5 May).

    “I’m delighted with him as he’s been to Blenheim but has never performed in an atmosphere quite like that one today,” explained Rose. “H went in and was a bit like ‘ooh!’ but he really settled the whole way through the test – the changes are still a bit of a work in progress with him, but some of the work was really nice.

    “It’s amazing to trot into the main arena at Badminton. I’ve been to watch but never ridden here and it’s an incredible feeling. You have to try and keep in your own zone and not let the crowds distract you but it’s really cool.”

    Rose says she’s looking forward to getting stuck into the cross-country phase on Saturday.

    “It’s a big track out there, but I think everything is quite obvious if you get your lines right. Jack is a good cross-country horse and is hopefully up to the challenge as long as the crowds aren’t too overwhelming for him.”

    Rose first got Jack when she was just 18 years old and has enjoyed a dream-like rise through the ranks to get to this level.

    “I’ve been very lucky as he’s gone up the levels really well, just taking each step as it has come,” she explains. “We did our first intermediate in 2018, so that was that box ticked, then our first three-star in 2019 and we’ve just kept going. He then went really well in the under-25 championship at Bicton last year, where he was seventh, and then jumped double clear at Blenheim CCI4*-L at the end of 2021, so we just felt it was sort of time to step up to five-star and see if he’s if he’s up to the challenge. To be at Badminton for my first five-star is a dream come true and we’re just trying to enjoy it.”

    Rose now rides full-time from her Shropshire base, with some young horses coming up behind Jack.

    “I always wanted to ride for a year after uni and then Covid hit, but I’ve got Jack and he’s really the main reason I’ve kept going with riding full-time,” she says. “I hope to keep going with it if I can – I’d love to do some more five-stars.”

    Read our full Badminton form guide in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound (issue dated 5 May 2022). Our bumper 20-page Badminton report will be in our 12 May issue and keep fully up-to-date with all the action during Badminton week via horseandhound.co.uk, where a host of features and reports will be published.

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