Ian Stark wins at Burgham on horse related to Olympic ride: ‘It feels like the good old days’

  • Ian Stark won the open novice at Burgham last Wednesday (19 August) on a horse who is related to his Atlanta Olympic ride Stanwick Ghost.

    The Duchess of Devonshire, who owned Stanwick Ghost, bought a full sister to Stanwick Ghost “way back in the day”, a thoroughbred called Stanwick Monument, who evented with Ian’s daughter Stephanie and point-to-pointed. Her daughter, Silver Monument (by Silver Patriarch), is the dam of Ian’s current ride, Chatsworth Diamond. The eight-year-old is by Billy Congo, the sire chosen by Ian when the duchess bred him.

    Ian broke and produced Chatsworth Diamond, competing him at BE100 in 2018, before the horse spent the 2019 season and the start of this year with Tom McEwen.

    “He’s only been back with me a month and so I’ve just been working on getting him back on my wavelength,” Ian told H&H.

    “He tries hard and is a nice mover. We did the open novice at Warwick Hall the Saturday before and got a 23 dressage and clear showjumping, but I didn’t go fast enough so I ended up second.”

    The pair scored even better in the dressage at Burgham with a 20.5.

    “I’ve had various comments from friends calling me a dressage queen,” laughed Ian. “The duchess said the Warwick Hall test was lovely and I said it was a bit wobbly and green, then Stephanie said the Burgham test was even better. I said there was a lot more to come and we can get better than that – but when we saw the score Stephanie told me to shut up!

    “He has felt a bit tight so I showjumped him at Warwick and Burgham in a hackamore which has helped open him up and he was really pinging the fences at Burgham. I had no choice but to try to go for the time so I kicked on and let him have a nice time, but I didn’t wear a watch.

    “When I looked at the results, most of the others in the placings were nine to 11 seconds inside the time and I was one second inside, so at least I haven’t lost my touch for speed!”

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    Ian will now aim the horse at his first intermediate at Richmond next week and says he has no intention of giving up eventing any time soon. The 66-year-old is also eventing another novice called Bowler Bill, a 15.3hh ex-racehorse, and is keeping Harelaw Wizard, who belongs to his son-in-law Charles Robson, ticking over before he returns to Ben Hobday next spring for another crack at Badminton.

    “I keep thinking about giving up, but I like having young horses around and pottering away with them,” he said. “I keep saying you’re a long time dead, and as long as I’m fit and well and enjoying riding, I’m going to keep having a bit of fun.

    “I said to the duchess I would take Chatsworth Diamond advanced if he was good enough. She said she wouldn’t let me and I said she wouldn’t know, I’d just enter and go! It feels like the good old days when the duchess had a lot of horses with me, we’re reliving the past a little bit.”

    Ian last rode at the top level in 2007, but said: “If Chatsworth Diamond or Bill came up with the goods I wouldn’t rule out doing a five-star again. If I’m fit and not letting the horse down, I might have a go, but if I feel slow and past it, we might let another rider have the ride.”

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