‘It’s honestly like a dream come true – it doesn’t feel real’: meet the full-time accountant heading to her first Badminton

  • Twenty years ago, Lauren Innes was preparing to pile into the car with her Pony Club friends, disposable cameras at the ready for Badminton Horse Trials cross-country day.

    Twenty years later, her friends will still be piling into cars, phone cameras at the ready – only this year, it will be Lauren they are capturing at each fence.

    Badminton will be the first five-star for Lauren and her own 12-year-old gelding Global Fision M (“Flipper”), who was sourced as a five-year-old with the help of friend and Irish event rider Brian Morrison, a co-director of Global Event Horses.

    “It’s honestly like a dream come true. It doesn’t feel real,” says Lauren, H&H’s 2021 amateur rider of the year, who formerly rode for Britain and recently switched to compete under the New Zealand flag.

    Lauren, 31, an Oxford University graduate, who balances her sport with working full-time as an accountant, grew up watching her heroes – including Pippa Funnell and Mary King – galloping across the Gloucestershire turf.

    “I had a signed postcard from both Pippa and Mary on my bedroom wall. I watched all their videos and read all their books. Pippa and William did a show called the “Funnell Factor” and I had it on DVD and would watch it on repeat – I knew all the names of their horses,” she adds, with a laugh.

    “When I was in Pony Club, we would pack everyone in the car, we all had our portable cameras and took a photo at every single fence.

    “I remember after the course had finished, climbing on the big fences, then waiting a week for all our cameras to be developed. I remember thinking how incredible those horses and riders are. We would look at those fences and think they were so big how could anyone ever jump them?”

    And in a month’s time, Lauren will be finding out exactly what that feels like.

    Her aim? To be competitive – “I want to be fast and clear, with a good dressage” – and to enjoy it.

    “Whatever happens, I’m going to have the best time and try to enjoy every single second of it,” she says.

    The combination is heading to Badminton with consistent four-star form under their belts. Their highlights include third at Blair Castle CCI4*-L and 11th at Bicton CCI4*-L in 2021. They were also part of the silver medal-winning British side at the 2019 European Cup, a CCI3*-S team competition, and won Bicton CCI3*-S in 2020.

    The pair enjoyed a solid preparation run in the Lycetts Grantham Cup CCI4*-S at the Eventing Spring Carnival at Thoresby Park (31 March to 3 April), with a double clear.

    “He is on good form and where I want him to be at this stage in the season,” says Lauren of the “incredibly talented” Flipper. “We are taking one day at a time, trying to treat it like any other season, any other three day. It’s not long now, but it feels like an age when you don’t want anything to go wrong.”

    She names her mum, Lesley Innes, and her trainer, Mark Corbett, as the two pivotal people that make her eventing dreams a reality.

    “Mum has supported me all the way through, and Mark has been there every step of the way,” she says. “He’s come to all my preparation runs, helps me start, leads him up to the trot-up. He’s so calm and is able to say two or three words to me that help me get into the right mindset.”

    Flipper’s preparation has involved plenty of British Dressage (BD) through the winter, along with some British Showjumping. Regular sessions with Equine Rebalance Therapy Centre’s water treadmill have also helped boost his fitness, without additional galloping.

    “At home, he is really quite easy to do. He is just such a competitive horse, the dressage is always something where I have to have him in the right state of mind to get a test out of him,” she said, explaining this is where the winter BD outings have been a help.

    “If I do something to annoy him, he will let me know! He just loves the jumping so much – he sees the flags and stays between them. It’s lovely to ride a horse who tries so hard all the time.”

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits. 

    You may like...