H&H visited the Northamptonshire stables of up-and-coming star Joe Stockdale and we encountered classy horses, a dedicated team and stunning facilities — plus evidence of another sport practised at top level.
We hope you enjoy this exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of Joe’s yard. Don’t miss the full interview in the latest issue of the magazine, which is out today (4 July).
1. A stunning sculpture
Joe’s dad, the late Tim Stockdale, had long admired the steel sculptures made by Charles Elliott. After Tim’s death, Laura commissioned this statue of Tim’s King George winner Kalico Bay, which now stands proudly in front of the house.
2. Stables by the house
The main stable yard of 12 stables is overlooked by the house. Kalico Bay, now 18, still occupies the first box on the left, and Joe competes him as a schoolmaster at low levels — “When I need to work on something I can just get on him and he’ll show me how to do it.”
3. A “midget” star
Joe says “it’s a fluke” that he got the ride on Esme Bas’ 15.2hh Gunner (also known as Romeo): “It was because he had the same name as a horse I’d ridden previously!” The pair started in 1m classes together, and have now won a rankings class and jump up to 1.60m.
“He always finds that extra bit of scope,” says Joe, who is 6ft 1in.
4. “Mum’s in charge”
Joe’s mum Laura (pictured with Kalico Bay) continues to do all the admin, organisation and management of the yard, as she did in Tim’s day. She rode up to Foxhunters herself, and is a Pony Club instructor.
5. The next generation
Joe rides Don Diego Di Plata (Didi) back from exercise. This quieter line of stables is home to his new ride, six-year-old Corlottie — the daughter of Tim’s Olympic mount Corlato and Peppermill — plus Joe’s old grey pony, now 28, who is often free-range on the yard.
6. Switching sports
Joe played for Northants County second XI, and was on the road to becoming a pro cricketer until his father’s death last November led him to switch sports. He has a cricket net in the garden and still practises three times a week.
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7. A legacy of success
Tim’s plaques from all his international shows adorn the tackroom, with Joe’s now being added.
8. A training ground for champions
A “Derby field” is a feature at Dovecote Farm. Besides the immaculately mown turf enabling Joe to train on grass, there are also several Derby-style fences for practising. But the Hickstead Derby isn’t on the agenda just yet.
“Dad said, whatever you do, don’t do the Derby this year, so I’m not doing it this year! The first time you really need to do it on a horse that knows what it’s doing, and I don’t have a horse for it at the moment.”
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.