From a £250 pony, to multiple surgeries and sights on Tokyo selection: 11 things you may not know about rising dressage star Sonnar Murray-Brown

  • Sonnar Murray-Brown is one of Britain’s most exciting up-and-coming dressage stars, currently scoring top placings at international grand prix with his Latimer gelding Erlentanz TSF. Let’s find out more about him...

    1. Sonnar Murray-Brown was born in 1988 near Chichester in West Sussex. His parents were not horsey — his father ran an outdoor education centre while his mother is an assistant headteacher, and the family’s main sporting interest when Sonnar was young was sailing.

    2. His first pony was called Polo, and was bought unbacked for £250. “We had no transport and had to lead him home along the main road,” recalls Sonnar.

    3. As a teenager, Sonnar was a highly successful showing rider, riding for various local show producers and eventually competing at the Royal International Horse Show and Horse of the Year Show.

    4. After deciding to pursue dressage, Sonnar started an apprenticeship at Jennie Loriston-Clarke’s Catherston stud aged 19. “Jennie’s such an inspirational person, not just as a rider but as an all-round horsewoman. She was on the yard every day, too, mucking out with us, and I trusted her 100%,” he says.

    5. In his first ever dressage test, Sonnar was eliminated for going wrong too many times – but less than two years later he had won a national title at elementary and was competing at prix st georges (PSG).

    6. In 2009, Sonnar was the front passenger in a devastating car crash. He broke both his legs, requiring multiple surgeries, and was told he may never ride again.

    7. When he was 24, having recently returned to the saddle after his ordeal, Sonnar spent a year living in Germany, where he bought a six-year-old gelding — Erlentanz (pictured).

    8. Sonnar and Erlentanz were advanced medium winter national champions in 2016, and made their international grand prix debut in 2018, when they were also selected for the World Class Podium Potential squad.

    9. Sonnar is now based in Gloucestershire, with his partner Rob Barker, who is also a dressage rider. He trains with Carl Hester.

    10. In February 2019, Sonnar broke his leg in a fall from a young horse. While he was out of action, Charlotte Dujardin competed Erlentanz on the international circuit, winning at Windsor and Bolesworth before finishing third at Aachen CHIO.

    Continued below…

    11. Sonnar and Erlentanz scored a grand prix personal best of 75.5% at the Keysoe CDI in October 2020, and are currently working towards team selection for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. “I know I have a horse capable of a place on a championship team and I will train as hard as I can to make that a reality,” he says.

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