‘He was nicknamed The Bolter as a young horse’ – Tim Price on his trio of contrasting five-star horses

  • “Ringwood Sky Boy will just do whatever is in front of him, he doesn’t think much, he just does. As a young horse he was nicknamed The Bolter, that’s why I got him for next to nothing as a seven-year-old – he was a little unruly and difficult to manage.”

    So says Tim Price about his Rio 2016 Olympic ride and Burghley Horse Trials 2018 winner, who belongs to Varenna Allen, Robert Taylor and his rider. He’s known at home as Ozzie.

    “It was a case of bringing out his talent, but he’s now really cemented himself in our family of long-staying horses in the yard and he’s a real favourite with everyone,” says Tim, who was chatting to H&H on episode 32 of The Horse & Hound Podcast.

    “He’s earnt true respect and his position in the yard from so many times going out and trying so hard – in particular at places like Burghley. He’s still the same character, but it’s all a bit more under control with him being a bit more mature.”

    Tim says Ringwood Sky Boy is good friends with his other 18-year-old five-star winner, The Windrush Equestrian Foundation’s Wesko, known as Dash.

    “Him and Dash have a good bond. They are so different, but they’ve been to a lot of competitions together and lived next to each other in the stable and field. They’re just old buddies that like to hang out,” says Tim.

    Wesko has a special place in Tim’s heart as the horse who gave him his first five-star victory, at Luhmühlen Horse Trials in 2014.

    “It’s something I’ll never forget and I’ll treasure and be forever grateful to him for,” he says. “It’s a tough thing when you put everything to one side and move across to another hemisphere and you’re really trying to get into those top echelons of the sport and you’re never quite sure it’s going to happen. So when it does happen it’s kind of a breakthrough moment.

    “Now it feels like I can have a crack at most of the major events, but back then it felt like an impossible task and Dash held my hand so that’s something very special.”

    Tim explains that Dash is not a natural “out and out eventer”.

    “He does it through technique and application of his abilities and that’s just another credit to his intelligence, I think,” says Tim. “He’s had a really tough time at some events – we pulled up two fences from home at the World Championships in France in 2014 and that’s really getting into the bottom of a horse. For him to come back and step up again at many five-stars and various competitions after that is a real testament to him.”

    Tim says that Dash has his naughty side – he was eliminated for run-outs at a skinny at Dauntsey, his last prep run before Pau Horse Trials last year.

    “That’s just him being cheeky, trying me out and I actually turned it into a positive that it was him being in a good physical way, that he was just playing with the boundaries. We went away and schooled a bit over some skinnies and he brought his A game to the major event of his season.”

    Indeed – Wesko went on to finish third at Pau.

    With Ringwood Sky Boy and Wesko both being 18, Tim knows he won’t be competing them that much longer.

    “Everything’s so fun with them – it’s very different to bringing young horses along – so it’s just a bit of a shame to be thinking about their retirement because they’ve been such a joy,” he reflects.

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    The third established five-star campaigner in Tim’s string is Xavier Faer, who has had two third places at the top level. He is owned by his breeder Trisha Rickards, Nigella Hall and Tim.

    “He’s not a natural born dressage horse, but he’s a great galloper and jumper and a ‘day three showjumper’,” says Tim. “He’s a proper old-fashioned three-day event horse, big and scopey. He’s all those things Wesko isn’t in terms of a five-star eventer – he’s all brawn and scope and boldness.

    “He’s younger than the other two – 15 – and hopefully he’ll pick up the mantle a little bit and the best is yet to come.”

    If you’d like to hear more about these three and Tim’s up-and-coming horses, listen to episode 32 of The Horse & Hound Podcast here or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.

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