Tales from Stoneleigh: from a riding school to the dream job with Carl Hester

  • Carl Hester’s new stable jockey doesn’t come from dressage royalty.

    “I’m from an unhorsey family; I never thought this would happen. I’m so excited,” says Sadie Smith, who will start working for Carl this week and is visibly delighted at the prospect of her new job.

    “I’ve been having lessons with Carl for about two years, and it was Charlotte [Dujardin] who asked if I’d like to come. I’m so grateful for the opportunity. I started off at a riding school!” she grins.

    Today, she is on board River Rise Magic Mike, a beautiful T Movistar x Prestige VDL stallion. They are fresh out of the prize giving of the 4-year-old final, where ‘Mikey’ finished runner-up.

    “I loved him when I first saw him as a foal. Sarah Tyler-Evans, who bred him, gave me a half-share as a thanks for riding her horses. I’m so grateful to Sarah,” she says, patting the horse.

    “He’s so easy,” she says of the stallion, who stands perfectly still while we chat. “It’s his first stay-away show like this and he’s been impeccably behaved.”

    “He tries so hard, sometimes he just runs out of juice. His canter is the best, it’s amazing,” she says.

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    Test rider Eva Möller cruised round the arena on Mikey, and told the crowd she “could sit on his canter forever.”

    “It was really good seeing her ride him, she did such a good job on him. I’m the only one that rides him at home, although we sent him to Martin Schleicher for backing as a three-year-old.”

    “I’m so chuffed with him — only him and Bryony Goodwin’s horse [4-year-old winner Hawtins San Floriana] scored over eight yesterday [in the preliminary judging],” she says.

    “He’s so good at home. We don’t treat him like a stallion; he goes out in the big field and he’s stabled next to my other horse, Mambo. They share their hay through the bars!” grins Sadie, 26.

    Mikey and Mambo (Keystone Dynamite) will go with Sadie to Carl’s. She hopes to be back with Mikey next year in the five-year-old and novice championships.

    The horse is already a licensed stallion with the AES, and will also start stud duties next year. He is super-friendly and relaxed, with his nose resting on my notebook.

    “We haven’t bred from him yet as we wanted to make sure he behaved! But I think Sarah will use him on some of her mares. He’s such a top prospect, and Carl loves him. Everyone loves him!” she says.

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