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‘If I get to the first fence without falling off I know we’ll be fine’ — wins against the odds

Returning home with four red rosettes from Harrogate Equestrian Centre’s well-attended Easter Festival show (19 to 22 April) was a horse with some unlikely credentials as a multi-winning showjumper.

The German-bred 14-year-old gelding Larissimo has been ridden by Sharon Dick for the past decade but was in a “bad place” when she bought him.

“He was so thin and bolted all the time,” she told H&H.

“When I loose-schooled him, he jumped straight out of the arena and ran back to his stable. He did the same with me the first time I rode him and I’ve had my share of motorbiking round and being fired into arena walls. But he really is the most adorable horse.”

The pair won a hat-trick of 90cm open classes over the Easter weekend, as well as claiming victory in a 95cm amateur class and taking second and fifth place in two 85cm amateur classes.

Sharon never jumps Larissimo at home and warms up in the parking area at shows — well away from the collecting ring.

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“He never even sees a practice fence,” said Sharon, who is based in Sheffield. “I work on the theory that I if I can get to the first fence in a class without falling off we’ll be fine.

“He’s almost grade B now and I’ve never had one of those in my life before,” added Sharon, who also takes part in ultra-marathons and will shortly be running 136 miles through the Amazon rainforest over five days.

“I got in some practice at this show by going for a 16-mile cross-country run in between classes.”

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

The full report from Harrogate Equestrian Centre’s Easter Festival show is in next week’s edition, in the shops on Thursday 9 May.

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