Appropriately, given that the Paralympics is in full swing, music crafted for a horse ridden by Paralympic medalist Sophie Wells bagged the highest prix st georges (PSG) freestyle mark of the year at Bury Farm, Bucks on Monday (12 September).
Rachael Clark and Wilhemina II scored a whopping 82% in the class, with the second-placed horse more than 10% behind.
The pair scored a 10 for their music in only their second attempt at the level.
“The judge got out of the car at the end and I was nervous and thought, ‘Oh god, I must have done something wrong!’ but she said it was the best music she’d ever heard.”
“I’ve actually no idea what it is!” admitted Rachael.
The highest score in a PSG freestyle so far this year had been 76.88%, achieved by Jo Barry and Corchapin in January. The highest ever British score in a PSG freestyle is held by Tahley Reeve-Smith, who scored 88.75% on Special in March 2014.
Wilhemina II is owned by Carolyn Alston in partnership with Rachael’s parents Bruce and Kim. The music was put together for a horse Carolyn used to own, whom Sophie rode.
Rachael has had the ride on the 12-year-old mare for 18 months and credits finding her perfect trainer in Jackie Beaven with her rapid improvement.
“Jackie’s transformed my riding, training and my belief, explained Rachael. “I spent a long time looking for someone to train how I wanted to. I don’t want to miss out any stages or take any short cuts; we tick all the boxes together and she’s given me so much confidence.”
Rachael thinks very highly of the mare, despite being bucked off her early in their relationship.
“She’s an easy horse but the girls at home call her Beyonce as she can be a bit of a diva,” said Rachael.
“But she bucked me off when I first started riding her and then drove home. When I got out of the car, I realised I’d really hurt myself. She’s ridiculously, crazy athletic, so she’s got a pretty mean buck in her, but she’s a proper worker.”
Their PSG freestyle had a high degree of difficulty, despite the pair being green at the level.
“It’s a hard test with the half-pazz zig-zag into the medium, then the pirouettes and straight into the changes,” she said.
Rachael is contesting the medium gold class at the national championships this week.
“It’s a mega hot class and I’m against Charlotte Dujardin!” she added.