‘He lives in my nan’s garden’: meet the family pet who came third in speed Derby

  • Charlene Bastone put in strong performances in the Hickstead British speed derby, holding the lead for three quarters of the class to finish in eventual third and fourth place.

    She beat her own pathfinding ride on the green mare Halina HL with her second horse, 12-year-old Fyberlinus H, who is owned by her grandmother Susan Bastone.

    The Dutch grey has jumped the class twice before but Charlene only competes him infrequently as he lives with her grandmother in Essex, while she is based in Sussex with David and Louise Simpson.

    “My grandad David used to race pigeons and he lives in converted pigeon sheds in their garden, next to the other horses next door,” Charlene said.

    Susan and David have owned the gelding since he was two and he was backed and started by Charlene. The horse has been based with her for six weeks to prepare to compete at Hickstead.

    “He is really easy-going and doesn’t need too much preparation,” Charlene said. “My nan has a friend who comes in and rides him but it can be quite difficult to meet up for shows.

    “I’m not normally allowed him for this long. She calls me all the time to see how he is! Last time I was only allowed him for three weeks.”

    Susan added that she did sit on the horse herself a few times when he was younger but he is “a bit sharp” for her.

    “A friend of mine comes and rides him. He does a bit of dressage which he hates!” she said. “Mostly, he’s my pet, he eats all the veggies and apples from the garden.”

    Susan admitted to some nerves while watching his speed Derby round.

    “He’s been wasted the last two years, as with Covid and Charlene being abroad he’s done nothing. It’s always a worry, is he going to be good enough to get round?

    “I am still shaking,” she added. “I can’t tell you what it was like watching that, I was nearly sick in my bag!”

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