Tom McEwen and rising equine star best of the Brits at Pau: meet the sensational chestnut mare with ‘a heart of gold’

  • British double Olympic medal-winner Tom McEwen showed the world he has another exciting top-level campaigner in his string in CHF Cooliser, runner-up in the Pau Horse Trials results.

    Tom, who won the 2019 event with his Tokyo Olympic team gold and individual silver medallist Toledo De Kerser, rose from 20th after dressage to take second place in the final standings with the 11-year-old mare, behind winners Tim Price and Falco.

    Pau was the first five-star for the Irish Sport Horse (Womanizer x Ramiro B) and she added nothing to her first phase score of 29.1 to end the week as one of just two horses to finish on their dressage mark.

    Tom told H&H that for a horse to make such a good five-star debut felt “sensational”.

    “I was so pleased with how she dealt with the dressage to begin with as she is definitely a chestnut mare, but she has a heart of gold,” he said.

    “She’s got the most amazing character and she loved every moment and I think she’s probably taken a lot from it. In her mind, she just thinks she’s designed to do this. She’s been wondering why she hasn’t been doing this all her life and why she’s only just got here.

    “She absolutely loves it and would do absolutely anything for you – she’s incredible like that. She would dig deeper and go further than any other horse I probably will ever meet.”

    Tom added he has never ridden a horse like her across country, explaining she is genuinely always looking for the flags.

    “She could spook at something and be on completely the wrong line, then finds the flags and off she goes. She always tries her best and I couldn’t ask for more,” he said.

    “She’s always fast across country, it’s just that we don’t always run her that quickly because there’s been other parts to work on. Every three-day she’s ever been to she’s always tried her heart out on the last day. And this time so much so that I caught a bit of air as well I think, I wasn’t quite expecting that!”

    “Eliza”, owned by Vicky Bates and David Myers, showed the depths of her scope at the patterned oxer at fence four, propelling Tom up her neck on landing.

    “It’s really exciting to have a new one stepping up,” he added. “It’s been a while – I’ve sort of been relying on Toledo and Fig [Figaro Van Het Broekxhof]. Obviously Toledo stepped up a long time ago now and Fig had already stepped up before I got him.”

    Tom bought the mare as a recently backed youngster from Poppy and Robert Stronge, who had not long acquired her from Ireland. He has produced her up the levels and to date, she has never had a cross-country jumping fault. The pair won the British intermediate championships in 2018, were third at Millstreet CCI4*-L in June, again behind Tim and Falco with Harry Meade and Tenareze in second on that occasion.

    For a horse with such an impressive international record – including 12 double jumping clears from 19 starts – she has flown slightly under the radar.

    “We’ve had a fun journey,” Tom said, adding it was the mare’s heart that attracted him to her.

    “She took to it so quickly and absolutely loved it. She took no convincing with any of it – she just thought this was perfect and was definitely the job for her

    “It’s been a slow rolling process to get her to this level. We’ve been waiting to get her out at five-star, but we just wanted to get a few things nailed on the head with the dressage.

    “I was really hoping in my heart of hearts that between third to fifth place was very possible with her, without anyone really noticing she was even there. But the main aim was that she enjoyed her job and it’s nice to know I can take her to Badminton next year in prime form.”

    View the Pau Horse Trials results in full

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