‘We almost gave up on her’: meet the veteran home-bred five-star stalwart and her firefighter rider taking on Badminton Horse Trials

  • Firefighter Tom Crisp and the veteran five-star event mare Liberty And Glory are looking ahead to the jumping phases after getting their Badminton Horse Trials campaign off to a solid start today (6 May).

    This partnership’s journey together is remarkable and the pair ended their 2022 season with a fairytale result at Burghley Horse Trials, recording a top-10 finish at five-star weeks after Tom broke three ribs in a schooling fall.

    Watch Tom talk about Liberty And Glory after their Badminton dressage test

    Their preparation for Badminton has thankfully been smoother, and the partnership arrived here following an eighth-place finish in their prep run at Thoresby CCI4*-S.

    Rewind to the early days of this now 16-year-old mare’s story, and her achievements are all the more impressive given the inauspicious start to her eventing career.

    Liberty And Glory (Lori), who gained her name as she was born on 4 July, was bred by Tom’s parents-in-law, out of his wife Sophie’s former advanced mare, Little Runnymede.

    “She was very difficult in the beginning, she didn’t take to it to start with and we almost gave up on her,” says Tom.

    “We couldn’t even get her round BE100s in the beginning. Then something just clicked when I got on and we haven’t really looked back since.”

    This is their second Badminton as a combination – Tom also completed here with Coolys Luxury in 2018 – and they finished 41st in 2019, having broken a frangible pin across country. Their record also includes a completion at Luhmühlen and sixth at Pau in 2018.

    Tom and the mare earned a score of 36 from the judges – the same mark as they achieved at Burghley before going on to finish ninth – and are in 54th place overnight after the first phase.

    “She doesn’t find dressage easy, and I think she went in and was a lot more at peace with dressage today and just needed me to get on and ride her a bit more, which is unusual for us,” says Tom.

    He adds: “She’s come out of the winter probably as fit and as well as I’ve ever had her. So you never know, you think you can have the best preparation leading up to these events and then not pull it together on the day, and other times you think you’re totally unprepared and somehow, it all comes together on the day. So it’s a bit of a lottery.

    “Burghley was amazing because I never expected that. Like I said at the time I didn’t think I was ready, I wasn’t even coming three weeks before, so to come out and pull out one of our best results just shows you how crazy and wonderful, yet frustrating, this sport can be.”

    Tom has been a firefighter with East Sussex Fire and Rescue.

    “I think you always need a hobby on the side,” he says. “A lot of riders teach or buy and sell to fund their habit of being a five-star rider. I’ve got to find a way to fund my hobby of being a five-star event rider, it’s not easy.”

    Tom and Liberty And Glory will start Eric Winter’s cross-country course at 2.22pm on Sunday (7 May).

    How to watch Badminton Horse Trials

    If you are interested in watching Badminton Horse Trials live from the comfort of your home, wherever you are in the world, then you will need to subscribe to Badminton TV. To sign up, visit watch.badminton-horse.tv – click the “Sign Up” link in the top right corner of your screen, then follow the instructions. An annual subscription to Badminton TV costs £19.99 and gives you 365 days of access to all of the content in the Badminton TV library, the ability to watch the action live, and the option to replay all of this year’s action later.

    You might also be interested in…

    Keep up to date with all of the breaking news, behind the scenes insight and the best of the action throughout Badminton Horse Trials with no limit on how much you can read from as little as £1 per week with Horse & Hound unlimited website subscription. Sign up now. Plus enjoy our full 22-page magazine report on Badminton, including in-depth analysis and exclusive comments from Nick Burton and Mark Phillips, in Horse & Hound magazine (on sale 11 May).

    You may like...