Two eventers, two racehorses and a hunter — here are five familiar equines that Robert Walker, guest editor of H&H’s showing special (on sale 17 March), would love to ride in the show ring.
This 15-year-old racehorse, trained by Donald McCain, won the Grand National in 2011.
Robert says: “Ballabriggs would make a lovely middleweight. He’s gorgeous to look at and judges would like him. His owner Trevor Hemmings seems to like the old Irish type — Ballabriggs is a strapping horse. I watched a feature about him on TV after he won the National and he’s lovely and light on his feet. I’ve not done ex-racehorse classes before, but I’d happily take Ballabriggs into the ring if given the chance.”
2. Miners Frolic
This thoroughbred won European gold for Tina Cook in 2009, and was part of Great Britain’s silver medal-winning eventing team in 2012.
Robert says: “Miners Frolic was a beautiful horse. Even in monsoon rain for his dressage test at the London Olympics he looked special, although I thought he was harshly marked by the judges. He was pure blood, by Miners Lamp, and he was obviously bright enough because of all he achieved. He’d be a classy show hunter and could tempt me into a worker class too.”
A six-year-old owned by Rich Ricci and trained by Willie Mullins who is unbeaten in eight out of nine runs. In his ninth — his racing debut — he finished second.
Robert says: “Douvan’s a big horse [17hh] and I enjoy watching him. I could take him into the show ring and he’d do well but, to be honest, he’s so good at what he does I’d let him keep racing. His ability to earn me money is very attractive.”
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“The horses are all in superb condition and look fantastic. Without doubt it is thanks to their TopSpec feed regime which helps to add gleam and shine to their coats, whilst developing the correct muscle and topline for the show ring,” says Robert.
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4. Mister McEvoy
A former ride of David Tatlow, one of this horse’s many accolades was being crowned Lightweight Hunter of the Year at Horse of the Year Show in 2004.
Robert says: “I always liked this horse. I first saw him in Dublin as a three-year-old and he caught my eye even then. I remember the year he finished second at the Royal International Horse Show and David was so angry because he felt the horse should have won. When they went into the championship I’ll never forget the way the horse moved — David really made the horse tick and made the judges look silly because the horse was absolutely swinging. I’d love to take him into the ring myself.”
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5. La Biosthetique-Sam FBW
In 2012, Sam and his German rider Michael Jung held the Olympic, European and World titles at the same time. They also won Burghley last year.
Robert says: “I’m slightly cheating, because I would skip the show ring and just take this horse hunting. He’s already well educated so he’s ready for me to get on and take him over some big Cheshire hedges. He’s such a careful horse and rarely has a showjump down, plus he must have a trainable mind. He goes so quickly across country but still comes out and jumps well the next day because his mind hasn’t been blown by the speed. I think I’d have a lot of fun on him.”
Don’t miss Robert Walker’s guest-edited showing special in the 17 March issue of Horse & Hound