‘No time for bucking today!’: speedy LGCT London winner thanks her mare, who is ‘totally in tune with my thinking’

  • The Longines Global Champions Tour of London (LGCT London) is a lucky venue for Irish showjumper Aisling Byrne and on Friday (11 August) she followed up on last year’s “emotional” victory to win again, this time riding her super long-time partner, the 15-year-old mare Celeste SPB Z.

    “This show is incredible, so to win here is an absolute honour,” said a delighted Aisling after the CSI2* GC Store 1.15m speed class held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

    “There’s some very tough competition here, so it’s nice to get a win. We’ve been very lucky and we had a very good show two weeks ago in Dinard, in France, then here as well. So she’s in great form – she’s pulling it out of the bag for us!”

    But while Aisling is flying high in the international ring at the LGCT London, just five years ago she was told she would never be able to walk again, after a horror fall from a horse on the Sunshine Tour, and she is still feeling the effects of her injuries.

    “I’m still doing a lot of rehab – I have to compensate for different things at different times,” says Aisling. “Sometimes walking the course really leaves my legs fatigued, so I have to be careful how much walking I do because it affects me when I get on the horse.”

    LGCT London: ‘It’s like the horses know – they totally help me out’

    “But the horses are so good – it’s like they know and they totally help me out,” explains Aisling. “Especially Celeste, she’s so in tune with what I’m thinking, I only have to think to turn and she’s already on it.

    “She felt like she was really on it and ready to do well today – she loves a jump-off and she’s so competitive. She’s got a great brain, so every time she does a turn she’s seeing where the next fence is – she’s a really good partner to have. The crowd are fantastic – she loves it and gets a bit spicy when she hears them!

    “Sometimes she bucks when she’s in the ring but I said to her today ‘We have no time for that – you can play tomorrow!’ It was super fun.”

    Aisling said she “ran away and hid” until she heard the end result and realised she’d won, but has every confidence in the Zangersheide-bred 15-year-old mare.

    “I’ve had her since she was a young horse, then she had a big break when I was off with my accident,” said Aisling. “So she did nothing for quite a few years. I just kept her ticking over on the flat, then she came back jumping and she absolutely loves the shows. Her breeders get in touch regularly and they can’t believe how well she looks for her age. I’m glad we’re doing her justice! She is spoiled though!”

    Finishing second in the CSI2* GC Store 1.15m speed class at the LGCT London was yesterday’s victors Isabella Beecroft-Luckett and Dahar, with Michaela Whitaker third on Lingala.

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