Tales from Hickstead: ‘I chased Allister Hood up the hill at the gallop’

  • THE maxi cob championship at this year’s Royal International Horse Show will be a class that amateur rider Natalie Chapples will never forget. Riding her faithful maxi cob Aughoo Lad who was making his third and final RIHS appearance in the BSPA Native/Cob/Traditional Ridden Horse class, Natalie was pulled into the line up next to her showing idol Allister Hood riding Our Cashel Blue, both of whom have also subsequently retired from the showring.

    “‘Doc’ was an absolute star and even received a compliment from a showing hero of ours – I was stood next to the once-in-a-generation superstar partnership of Allister Hood and Our Cashel Blue, and we had a lovely chat in the ring,” exclaimed Natalie. “I was on cloud nine when he told Doc ‘You’re a good boy’. It was so kind, and meant the world.”

    After the line-up, the pair followed Allister and Our Cashel Blue up the famous Hickstead hill for their last ever RIHS gallop.

    “Doc pulled off a mega gallop and afterwards, when Allister had won the class, I congratulated him and joked it must have been my pep talk in the line-up that gave him the winning edge, to which Allister replied ‘and when you chased us up the hill’,” laughed Natalie. “It is a super memory and I’ll be forever thankful to my smashing little horse for getting us there – it’s a dream come true.”

    Natalie bought 15-year-old skewbald maxi cob Doc nine years ago from her local riding school, where she still keeps him to this day.

    “He was bought to be used in the riding school at Seaview Riding School in Barrow-in-Furness, but luckily for me, he got to be my happy hacker and occasional show horse, and after loaning him for two years, I bought him,” said Natalie. “I still have lessons from the original instructors Claire Hayton and Faye Shipton who have helped and supported me – I couldn’t have done it without them. With him being 15 now, we wanted to leave the ring on a high, and that’s exactly what’s happened.”

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