Emotional Bicton start for Gemma Tattersall on home-bred: ‘He’s not the brightest, but he always tries his best’

  • Gemma Tattersall was emotional after her Chedington Bicton Horse Trials dressage test on the home-bred Chilli Knight. The pair’s tidy, accurate performance earned them 27.9, which puts them fourth at the lunch break.

    Chilli Knight belongs to Chris Stone – at whose yard Gemma is based – and is by his now deceased stallion Chilli Morning, out of the Rock King mare Kings Gem, who Gemma rode up to five-star level and piloted to second in the under-25 class at Bramham Horse Trials.

    After her test, a tearful Gemma said: “He just was like, ‘Mummy, I’m doing my best.’ He always does his best, but he was great. He listened to me.

    “I think if I was being like mega critical, the second flying change he was a little bit extravagant and it wasn’t quite as perfect as the first one. But his trot is terrible and I thought he did his best trotting he’s ever done. So I was just very proud of him.”

    Gemma went on to describe the 11-year-old chestnut’s character.

    She said: “He’s a funny little horse. I wouldn’t say he’s the brightest horse in the world, but what makes him is that he always tries his absolute best in training and in competition. I describe him as typical gelding, and a ‘yes man’. If I ask him to do something, he’ll give it a go. Very rarely is he difficult or in any way naughty.

    “He’s a poppet and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him put his ears back in his life. I don’t think he really knows how to be horrible or nasty or anything like that.”

    Chilli Knight has had a cracking season, including seventh in the CCI4*-L here in June and a recent third in the CCI4*-S at Hartpury.

    Gemma has high hopes for this week, but warns “at the end of the day, he’s a horse”, referencing her fall from Arctic Soul at Burghley two years ago, despite the horse’s vast experience.

    “But yes, Chilli Knight is in really good form – he’s confident, he absolutely flew around Hartpury and had a great time. He’s easy to go fast on, because he’s not strong, and we know each other so well,” said Gemma.

    “He’s so amazing at measuring his jumps. He’s not a flamboyant jumper or anything, but he’s really fun – he makes me laugh, because if he comes to a fence that’s a bit wider, he just goes, ‘Oh mum, I think I need to stretch my knees out further’. And that’s all he does, whereas some horses kind of go, ‘Boof, it’s a big jump’, he just goes, ‘Oh I’ll stretch my legs further out’, which is just really funny.”

    The Bicton Horse Trials dressage continues this afternoon.

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