Syndicate set up in memory of rider’s five-star ‘horse of a lifetime’

  • A syndicate has been set up in memory of David Britnell’s five-star partner Continuity, with hopes the new ride could follow in the footsteps of his “best friend”.

    The Continuity Syndicate, which has 10 members including David and his partner Fleur Manyweathers, has bought JTH Wonder – a seven-year-old gelding by Derby, bred by Jay Halim. To date “Stevie” has showjumped with Jay to 1.20m and completed four BE100 events, with Jay and Toby Piggott.

    David told H&H Fleur came up with the idea of forming a syndicate following the death of Continuity, known fondly as Brad, last year. The 17-year-old gelding, described as David’s “horse of a lifetime”, sustained a tendon injury at an event in May and was put down later that summer when he did not recover.

    “Fleur was very strong when we had to say goodbye to Brad and she really supported me during a tough time. Further down the line she said it would be amazing to get a horse with good breeding, conformation, and all the attributes to get to the top again,” said David.

    “At the time we weren’t in the position to go and buy a horse with all the attributes to go where Brad went, so Fleur came up with the idea of doing a syndicate and really got it off the ground. The members are all people who knew Brad to one extent or another; we have family members, owners, and people who are interested in the sport as a hobby. Everyone is in it for the journey.”

    A telephone call with Jay Halim led to David viewing Stevie, who has now been with David for three weeks.

    “Jay described Stevie as an elastic ball. He’s got all the scope and spring and lightness – and a very cheeky side to him. He’s very comfortable in his own skin and I thoroughly enjoyed riding him, he’s very bold,” said David.

    “He’s very affectionate and cuddly, which is how Brad was. He’s got a real personality and wants to know what you’re doing and be included.”

    After struggling with the loss of Brad, David sought help and underwent eye movement desensitisation and processing therapy [known as EMDR] which aims to help people process and overcome past experiences.

    “I found losing Brad tough, there were times where I felt exhausted and started to doubt myself. I had a fall showjumping, and realised my head just wasn’t in the game and I started questioning what I was doing,” he said.

    “Fleur found out about EMDR online and at first I was sceptical but it really helped. It’s changed my mental capacity and the whole way I deal with things like setbacks. Before, if I looked at a picture of Brad it would bring so much emotion, but now I can look at a picture and smile. I’m no longer thinking of the sad side, I can remember the happiness with him. I’m not feeling like I’m being punched down because I’ve lost my best friend, I’m now feeling we have a positive way of going forward, especially with the syndicate in Brad’s memory.”

    David, who runs a yard and has other young event horses coming up the levels, hopes Stevie could follow in Brad’s footsteps and become a five-star horse in future.

    David Britnell pictured with his new ride JTH Wonder

    David Britnell pictured on JTH Wonder, known as Stevie. Credit: Chloe Bolam

    “You never quite know which ones are going to go all the way, but sometimes I think it’s that sensation you get when you see a horse – you can’t necessarily put your finger on it, but you get a good feeling,” said David.

    “Stevie has ticked all our boxes and I’m excited to have a horse of this calibre, but at the same we won’t put too much expectations on him. We’re not just going to go hell for leather and say let’s get everything done as soon as we can. He’s been given time by Jay and we are going to continue to give him time to understand his job. He’s got more to learn yet.”

    David plans to take Brad to their first event together next month.

    “We’ve got a provisional plan for the rest of the season at BE100. If he gives me a really good feeling, understands skinnies and holds his line across country, then he might do a novice by the end of the season,” said David.

    “We will be guided by his understanding of everything, but he’s very much a horse for the future.”

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