13 facts you didn’t know about Royal Windsor’s amateur champion

  • Royal Windsor‘s amateur champion, Sophie Buckley, is a farmer’s wife and mother of two. Here are 13 other things you need to know about this hobby rider who piloted a home-produced horse to victory in front of The Queen.

    1. Sophie’s winning mount, The Prof, (pictured top) is named after the doctor who successfully treated his former owner, John Henry Senior, for cancer.

    2. John is a former master of the Meath Foxhounds in Ireland. He acquired The Prof when his dam, Stickybeak, was taken to the kennels to be put down.

    3. Sophie bought The Prof from Kieran Ryan in January. “I had to do a lot of convincing to get the family to sell him to me, because he played such an important part in John’s recovery. They finally agreed, mainly because I’m also Irish,” said Sophie.

    4. Shortly after arriving at Sophie’s Banbury home, the five-year-old grey flipped over a field gate while turned out. He galloped at the gate too quickly and, due to muddy conditions, was unable to stop. He lowered his head and somersaulted over.

    5. Consequently, The Prof needed some time off and only had one outing prior to Royal Windsor. This was at Keysoe, where he stood champion amateur hunter and earned a ticket to the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS). “He’d only been in work for about six weeks before Windsor and he was tiny bit buzzy, but generally he’s a nice, easy person — the perfect amateur horse,” said Sophie.

    6. The Prof was bred by Anna Darragh, a relative of the late Irish showjumper Paul Darragh.

    7. This is the second time Sophie has won at Royal Windsor. She topped the working show horse class on Rose Blossom in 2013.

    8. Sophie has three horses at home, including a heavyweight hunter who has qualified for the RIHS, and does all the riding and producing herself. She credits Rory Gilsenan with “getting her going” on the British showing circuit, and he was at Windsor to watch her win.

    9. Sophie juggles raising two children, seven-year-old Albert and Athena, four, with riding and helping her husband, Charles, run their arable and renewable energy farm. “It’s a busy day but it makes results like Windsor all the more satisfying. I compete in showing purely for fun,” added Sophie.

    10. However, Charles is not horsey and Sophie attends shows by herself. “My father was also a farmer who hated horses, so I’m used to it,” she said. “I had to beg for a pony and finally got one when I was eight. I Pony Clubbed and hunted, before falling into showing in my teens.”

    11. Sophie hails from Co Kildare in Ireland and her first taste of showing success came at Dublin Horse Show, where she headed the show horse championship at the age of 17.

    12. The Prof is also a past winner at Dublin, standing reserve champion lightweight, and Sophie hopes — “budget allowing” — that they will both return this year.

    13. Sophie is a ride judge on the Sport Horse (GB) panel.

    Don’t miss Horse & Hound’s full Royal Windsor Horse Show report in the current magazine (21 May), on sale now.

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