Retrained racehorse who found his forte at Badminton retires to the hunting field

  • The five-star eventing stalwart Galley Light is delighting in a new third career on the hunting field.

    The former racehorse competed at eight CCI4*s (now CCI5*s) with Ben Way, including a total of six Badmintons and Burghleys.

    Elite amateur Ben, who works as a chartered surveyor alongside his eventing career and was H&H’s Burghley first-timer blogger in 2016, scored his best Badminton result to date with the gelding the same year. The pair jumped double clear, adding just 0.4 of a cross-country time fault to their dressage mark, to finish 12th.

    Ben told H&H Galley Light’s strength was his carefulness, yet it was also this that led him to call time on the 17-year-old’s glittering career.

    “I don’t think he has anything left to prove,” he said. “He has taken me round three Badmintons, three Burghleys, a Pau and a Luhmühlen — he’s been everywhere, but Badminton was his track.

    “He was so careful and would try all the time — it was his carefulness showjumping that allowed his career to progress so quickly.”

    The Irish-bred thoroughbred, by Turtle Island, went from BE100 to intermediate in two seasons with Camilla Cotton and Ben in the saddle.

    Hunting will be Galley Light’s third career. Sold as a €125,000 (£106,000) store (unbroken three- or four-year-old National Hunt prospect), racing proved not to be his calling in life and he failed to come close to troubling the judge on any of his seven starts — his closest finish being fifth, 31 lengths behind the winner.

    He was then sold for £3,500 as a hunter, but found it too exciting at the time and then found his niche in eventing.

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    As well as Galley Light’s CCI4* achievements, he also finished sixth at Blair CCI3* (now CCI4*-L) in 2014, eighth at Burgham CIC3* (CCI4*-S) in 2016 and 10th at Cappoquin CCI3* (CCI4*-L) in 2018.

    Ben added the horse is now “loving hunting”, ridden by either himself or his stepfather John Pritchard, and enjoying days out with the Warwickshire and visiting the Pytchley with Woodland.

    “He has been a great servant,” said Ben, who co-owns the horse with Elisabeth Collins.

    “Although his early hunting career only lasted about two or three times, now after 10 years of going out and seeing the world he has quietened down a bit — still fidgety and sharp with his back legs — but you can turn him and jump from anywhere.

    It is wonderful for these older horses — he is clipped out, fit and well — the last thing he would want is to be turned away in a field, so for him to be able to go and do another job is lovely.”

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