Harry Meade has scored his first win at four-star level — riding a horse he has had for just two weeks.
The British rider claimed the CCI4*-L at Strzegom, Poland, last week (10-13 October) riding Superstition, who won Millstreet Event Rider Masters in September with his former rider, New Zealand’s Lucy Jackson.
The 10-year-old bay gelding, who belonged to Lucy and Gillian Greenlees, has been bought for Harry by his long-term owner Mandy Gray.
Lucy told H&H: “My sister Sophie Lane broke ‘Stinky’ in and took him to the Burghley young event horse final, where he came fifth. I then bought him, strongly encouraged by Mum who was his biggest fan.
“When he was a six-year-old, the Greenlees joined me in owning him — they have been owners with me for 12 years and are almost like family. They deserved their shot at a brilliant horse and were really excited to be involved.
“It’s no exaggeration to say Tokyo has been a bit of a goal and it wasn’t our intention to sell, but he had caught a lot of people’s attention in a positive way. He wasn’t on the market, but if someone makes a significant offer, you have to be realistic — horses are my living, We’ve got a two-and-a-half-year-old child, rent to pay and new businesses to get involved in.”
Harry added: “Lucy is a good friend and it wasn’t on my radar at all, but when Mandy and I saw him in passing at Millstreet, I said that he’s a lovely horse and after following him there she asked if he might be for sale.
“I’ve ridden for Mandy for seven years — I started off riding a tricky horse for her that she’d bought to ride herself, as a favour, and we got on really well. She’s been involved in the sport for a long time, but I didn’t know she’d be in the market to buy a horse of that calibre so it was a really welcome surprise.”
Mandy also currently owns Monbeg Medlar with Harry, who they bought as a five-year-old and is now at three-star level.
Lucy was aiming Superstition at Blenheim, but she didn’t feel she could take the horse there not knowing if he was being sold.
“Once the conversation had started, I was keen to know one way or the other and it happened quickly,” she said. “It was a huge honour to be back on a New Zealand [training] squad after Bramham and I felt horrific telling the federation, but they were very supportive, if very sad.
“I am relieved and delighted he is going to such a good rider where he will be looked after beautifully. Harry and I are good friends, so the line of communication is open and all the things it’s taken me seven or eight years to learn — his likes and dislikes — I can pass on.
“I’m now definitely on the hunt for his replacement — I’m aware they are big shoes to fill, but he has only whetted my appetite for success at the big time.”
Harry added that he and Lucy had spoken every day since he took over the horse on 26 September –
“It’s been a real team effort and we’re having a lot of fun working together,” he said.
The pair’s first competition together was Kelsall Hill open intermediate two days later. Superstition then went to Osberton, where Harry was competing other horses, so he could continue getting to know him. Harry arrived back at midnight on the Sunday night after Osberton and the pair set off for Strzegom in the early hours of Monday morning.
“We could have gone down the easier path of getting to know each other over the winter, but horses are different at events and we’d come out next March still not really knowing each other,” said Harry. “I was aware it was risky and it might not come off, but now it feels like we’ve been together six months. We’ve learnt a lot about each other and now he can have a break. We can then come out next season as a partnership, rather than still introducing ourselves.”
Harry and Superstition were second after dressage at Strzegom on a score of 28 — to fellow Brits Kylie Roddy and Carden Earl Grey — but they put in one of only two clears inside the time across country to move up to first place. One show jump down and two time-faults secured their win, four marks ahead of Andrew Hoy and his top horse Vassily De Lassos in second, the other pair to make the time across country.
“He’s a little horse, athletic and flamboyant. He’s dead keen as well, and a bright, intelligent horse. Lucy had done the most lovely job on him — she has a really good old-fashioned way of producing her young horses, building their confidence and strength. I feel very lucky to be taking him on,” said Harry.
“I was mindful that cross-country we would be learning about each other en route and I needed to adjust and adapt as we went to suit him, but you also can’t be too passive – horses stay confident from your confidence as a rider, so I was conscious I needed to adapt to him, but also be positive and let him adapt to me too.”
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Harry’s result this weekend means he is halfway to being individually qualified for Tokyo with Superstition, but he stressed that was not the reason for going to Strzegom.
“The reason for coming here was to get to know each other; Tokyo is a long way away and if we were in the running I’d grab it with both hands, but there’s lots to do between now and then,” he said.
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