Enjoy pictures from Eventing magazine's photoshoot with the leading under-21 British eventer
The last 12 months have been hugely successful for 21-year-old David Doel. With major CIC2* wins at Barbury and Camphire, myriad victories on the one-day circuit, plus a young rider team bronze medal to his name, it was no surprise that he finished the season as the leading under-21 British Eventing (BE) points winner in 2014.
His mother, Maggie Doel, is a BHSI, a former grand prix dressage rider and advanced event rider, while his father, Toby, is a dairy farmer.
“I had a fantastic team of young horses to compete [in 2014], plus [his double CIC2* winner and bronze medal-winning partner] Miss Caruso, who was bought for me to campaign in young riders, and they all lived up to my expectations,” says David, for whom a career with horses seemed fairly inevitable.
“We always had ponies at home and I loved bumbling around,” explains David, who was a keen — and very successful — member of the Avon Vale branch of the Pony Club.
The perfect farm
Home for David has always been Reybridge Farm, in the village of Lacock, near Chippenham.
“I was born here. I’ve never been anywhere else,” he explains. “The farm has been in dad’s family for four or five generations.
“I’m incredibly lucky to have the ideal set-up — everything I need is here,” says David, who has recently added to his acreage by “stealing” and re-seeding a five-acre paddock from his father.
Over the years, part of his father’s 800-acre dairy farm has morphed into Reybridge Eventing, a slick, successful business enterprise. Some of the old farm buildings have been converted into stables — there are 22 at present — of which David’s eventers occupy around 15. The others are rented by DIY liveries. There is a 22x60m outdoor arena and a horsewalker.
As well as the facilities on-site at Reybridge, David also has the benefit of more fields and hills where his father keeps his dairy herd, a 20min hack away. “We do all our fitness work there. There are some fantastic hills and big, flat fields for warming up.”
The best thing about living and working at Reybridge, says David, is having the support of his family 24/7.
“There are seven of us based on-site — my mum and dad, me, plus four full-time staff. I live in a converted flat on the yard with my head girl, Caroline Marwood, then Mum and Dad share the main house with two of our other grooms.
“I’m so lucky that we all get along so well and that Mum and Dad are so supportive. They help me run the business side of things; entertaining my owners with endless cups of tea and bacon sandwiches, which leaves me free to get on and ride the horses.”
Two years ago David’s family and supporters began investing in quality young horsepower with the aim of getting him to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
So, would David change anything about his set-up?
“No, I really don’t think I would,” he says. “I have everything I could possibly need to run my eventing business from here, plus incredible support from my family, owners and supporters. Of course I am keen to keep adding to the facilities — I’d love an indoor school at some point — but that’ll be staying on the wish list for now.”