‘Lordships Graffalo is an absolute clown’: Sarah Charnley on 10 years grooming for Ros Canter – and juggling it with a full-time job

  • Sarah Charnley, groom to Ros Canter at the eventing World Championships in Pratoni, Italy, has been an integral part of the defending world champion’s competition team for almost a decade now. Remarkably, she combines helping Ros at some of the biggest events in the world with working full-time as a building controls surveyor for her local authority.

    “When I go away with Ros it’s using my annual leave,” explains Sarah. “I just love seeing Ros doing really well, and I love meeting new people and seeing the background that goes into eventing and all the arrangements that go into the team both here and at all the other major events. I volunteer as well – I was a fence judge at the Olympics in 2012 – so it’s nice to see the other side of the fence, so to speak.”

    So what does Sarah feel are the most important qualities in a groom at these big championships?

    “You have to be organised, you have to be dedicated and you have to have exceptional time management,” she explains, adding that Ros is “very laid back” at big events.

    “As long as [the horses] are ready for when she wants them, then it’s always good. And there is always a please and thank you from Ros,” she adds.

    Groom Sarah Charnley: ‘Ros Canter’s Lordships Graffalo is the clown of the yard’

    Ros Canter’s ride in Pratoni is Michele Saul’s characterful 10-year-old Birkhof’s Grafenstolz gelding Lordships Graffalo – aka Walter, who carried Ros to a strong start in the dressage phase on Thursday, 15 September. He is out of the same mare, Cornish Queen (by Rock King), as another of Ros’s rides, Pencos Crown Jewel, and these are two horses that Sarah knows very well.

    “I’ve done Walter since Ros had him as a three-year-old, and Pencos Crown Jewel as well – I’ve done her since she was three. Ros has produced them all herself; the great Allstar B was the only one she didn’t have until he was eight.

    Sarah Charnley, groom to Ros Canter, with Lordships Graffalo

    “It’s quite interesting to see them grow up, and [Walter] was such a gangly character, but he’s always been the clown of the yard. If he’s not lying down, he wants to get hold of the yard brush and sweep, and things like that. Georgie Frow, Ros’ rider, and Ros have been trying to teach him to catch a glove – they throw a glove at him and he tries to catch it like a Labrador. He’s an absolute clown, but what a superstar he is.”

    Walter has had to step up to the plate as Ros’s top ride, following the death of her 2018 world champion Allstar B at Aachen this summer, although Allstar B’s memory is being kept very much alive at the World Eventing Championships.

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