Meet the ex-racehorse back at five-star after four-year gap owing to injury

  • Sightings of Soladoun, the mount of Ireland’s Elizabeth Power at this year’s Badminton Horse Trials, presented by Mars Equestrian, have been few and far between over recent years.

    The grey, owned by Elizabeth and Richard Ames, impressed at Burghley in 2018, when he was ninth in what was his first five-star, but has only been seen at three events since. He won the CCI4*-S at Kilguilkey House in August 2020, withdrew after the showjumping in the CCI4*-S at Ballindenisk in August 2020 and was then next seen in the CCI4*-S at Burnham Market last month.

    “He got injured and so he missed all of 2019. He came back and did one four-star short in 2020, then got injured again,” explains Elizabeth. “When they cancelled Burghley last year, I said ‘I’m giving him an extra year off’.

    “He was ready to go to Burghley last year, but once they cancelled it early, I decided to give him the extra time off with the theory that hopefully, as he’s 15 now, we can have a couple more years competing, rather than just one event – he’s a fun horse and I love him a lot.”

    Earlier today (5 May) Elizabeth and Soladoun, who ran on the Flat in France as a three-year-old, posted a score of 33 in the dressage.

    “I’m delighted with him. He’s been out of the game for so long and he’s never seen an atmosphere like that in his life, so to come out and cope is great,” said Elizabeth after his test. “His work has improved so much and, fingers crossed, is going to get better and better. He’s not a dressage horse, so for him to do a solid test is all I can ask of him.”

    Elizabeth says that she is hoping for a strong cross-country test on Saturday, as it is a strong phase for her horse.

    “I have a problem on Saturday if the cross-country isn’t relevant in the final result because if it’s not a strong enough test, I’m not going to win. I’m hoping Saturday is relevant and I hope that I can deal with it – the cross-country at Badminton and Burghley has to matter,” she explains. “I’m not petrified of any one fence in particular – I think it’s intense, especially down around the Vicarage Ditch area and there’s not a lot of room in between combinations down there, so it’ll be interesting to see if people can be on time coming out of all that. And then the 11min 44sec optimum time is long so you’re going to have to have a blood horse to make the time coming home. It will be interesting.”

    Elizabeth also says that, despite Soladoun’s good Burghley result, we can’t just assume that he will pick up from where he left off.

    “He’s done nothing in four years so you can’t just think that he can repeat Burghley again, but whatever he does on Saturday, he’s going to come on from it,” explains Elizabeth, who last competed at Badminton in 2015 aboard September Bliss. “It’s just nice to have an actual crack at it again. These events are good for your soul and what it’s all about – they are why you buy a horse. It’s been a long time since I’ve been here; seven years ago to be precise, one year for every fence I knocked down on the final day in 2015.”

    And Elizabeth says that it was those seven show jumps down on the final day at Badminton that led her to then have a break from eventing and go pure showjumping instead, with Doonaveeragh O One (“Tommy”) leading her string of jumpers and with whom she jumped the Hickstead Derby.

    “I left this place so distraught after my showjumping round, that’s what I started pure showjumping, so every cloud!” she says.

    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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