A pint-sized eventing marvel has wowed his fans by jumping clear across country on his advanced debut.
The Little Frenchman (“Fin”), ridden by 2017 Horse & Hound amateur of the year award-winner Alice Goring, stormed around Aston-le-Walls’ advanced track on Saturday (21 July).
The diminutive bay stands on the lower side of 15hh and is one of the smallest horses currently competing at the top end of the sport.
“It has been my absolute goal to take him to an advanced,” Alice told H&H. “In my interview when I won the amateur of the year award last year they asked me what my aim was and I said then it was to get to advanced with him.
“There’s been quite a lot of build-up to it — I was excited but slightly nervous, he is not your conventional [advanced] eventer, he stands out from the crowd!
“Going cross-country and going clear was amazing. Lots of the jumps were bigger than him, but he thinks he is 17.2hh and takes it on.”
Alice has a full-time job in osteoporosis research at Southampton General Hospital, which is a 100-mile round trip from her home in Surrey.
The 26-year-old is also a trustee and scientific advisor for the research side of Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony Charity and owner of another mini marvel, Instagram sensation and therapy pony Teddy the Shetland.
“[Coming through the finish] was amazing — obviously most of the people competing were professionals and I’m an amateur,” she added.
“There’s a lot of hard work to get Fin fit and I do it all myself, so there’s a lot of 6am lessons before work. It was an amazing feeling and also a relief that Fin was home safe and showed he was well able to compete with the big boys.
“I think people sometimes look at him in the warm-up and think ‘what is he doing here?’ and times like that show why — he just takes it in his stride.
“When you look back at the photos [you see] it is actually massive, but he makes it feel so doable because he has such confidence, he just cruised around the course at Aston.”
Article continues below…
You might also be interested in:
The prestigious titles have been handed out at a star-studded bash at Ascot
Sometimes size isn’t everything, as proved by these miniature eventing power houses who don’t seem to realise that they are
We rewind the clock 52 years to 1967 when the pint-sized Stroller clinched the Hickstead Derby title...
The pair also jumped double clear around the CIC2* at Barbury this month (pictured, above), which secured their CIC3* qualification.
“I entered Aston and decided not to enter anywhere else as I didn’t know how he would handle it, now I guess the sky is the limit, so I’ll have to have a think about what to do next,” she said, adding that Fin has come out of Aston “feeling great”.
“He gets back to the stable and it is as if nothing has happened and he could do it all again, I don’t know where he gets his energy from!”
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday