‘I’m gutted – but she’s got a lovely home’: four-star horse sold to young rider

  • Eventer Holly Woodhead has said a “sad goodbye” to Caunton Well Connected, as the four-star mare has been sold to an up-and-coming young rider.

    Holly took on the ride of 13-year-old “Ping”, who is by Grafenstolz and out of Caunton Stud’s foundation broodmare Caunton Welldone, in the summer of 2022. The mare was brought up the levels by Charlotte Dennis, and went on to have success with Nicola Wilson.

    “I got the ride on Ping after Nicola had her injury. Nicola and the owner Belinda Williams wanted me to take her on, and at the time we were based at Mount St John in North Yorkshire. The idea was we’d see how I got on with her, and we kept her,” Holly told H&H.

    Last year Holly and Ping jumped double clear in the CCI3*-S at Aston-le-Walls for eighth place, and were 12th at Burgham. They finished the season jumping clear across country in their first CCI4*-S together, at Little Downham.

    Holly said at the end of the year, Belinda’s circumstances changed, and the decision was made to sell Ping.

    “I was trying to put a syndicate together so I could keep her, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to find the people. So that’s when it was decided that she’s going really well so why not let a young rider go and have a lot of fun with her, and show them the ropes,” said Holly.

    “I’m gutted I couldn’t get the funds together to keep her, but it happens, and especially in our sport. You just have to keep going and hope there’s another one out there who can do the same. I’d wanted to go four-star again this year with her, and maybe do some Nations Cups, but now she can go and have a really good crack at the junior stuff.

    “It’s extremely tough; like many other riders I get so attached to them. They’re part of the family, and you work with them every single day and know them inside out. When you walk into the barn she’s the first horse with her head poking out of the stable looking at you with the most humongous ears and eyes. She always wants to see you, she is a very kind-natured horse.”

    Ping left for her new home yesterday (1 February).

    “It felt like I was selling my first horse again. I’ve sold many horses over the years and it never gets easier, but she’s got a lovely, lovely, home,” said Holly.

    “The rider is an up-and-coming young rider who is coming off ponies. She wants to have a good go at the juniors at Belsay this year, and maybe young riders in the future. Ping absolutely adores her job, and I’m excited to watch them together.”

    Holly thanked Belinda for the opportunity she had with Ping.

    “It’s impossible to do our sport without people like Belinda who support us riders. Belinda’s not only been an owner, she’s also been a friend,” she said. “I’ll always be thankful for her letting me ride her.”

    Holly said this year she will be concentrating on some young horses.

    “I’m a bit short in my team on more experienced horses, but I’ve got a really good bunch of younger ones that I’m excited about. I love producing the babies, and I’m excited for what I can do in a few years when they’re a bit older,” she said.

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