Retrained racing star Saphir Du Rheu storms around Barbury

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  • Saphir Du Rheu, the former successful steeplechaser who is now enjoying his retirement by demonstrating his eventing prowess, has added a clear novice cross-country round at Barbury International Horse Trials to his CV.

    Charlotte Alexander told H&H she was “overwhelmed” by the talented 10-year-old grey, formerly trained by Paul Nicholls, who has gone from his first ever event to jumping clear around five novice tracks in his first half season of eventing.

    “Saphy was truly amazing,” said Charlotte, who also retrained Denman.

    “He went clear across country on a course that caused huge problems. It was big and technical, but Saph popped round as if it was a hunter trial.

    Charlotte added both she and her friend Hayley Sparkes, who helps her at every event, were in tears when she finished cross-country at “just how amazing Saph was”.

    “I don’t want to blow Saph’s trumpet — but I will!” she added.

    “I really do think this is an incredible achievement considering he has had next to no training compared to the other horses there, most of which have been produced by professionals.

    “He has just been doing this for three months and is being ridden by an amateur who is not an event rider! What a horse.

    “I am going to train hard on the dressage and showjumping and when this is better, who knows what we can achieve.”


    Winner of the 2015 Grade One Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree, “Saphy” retired from the track in April 2018 and enjoyed a holiday before starting his retraining last summer.

    He team chased, leading the Boring Gorings around open tracks, and hunted with the Beaufort over the winter before competing at his first event, Aston-le-Walls (1) in March.

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    Charlotte, who trains with Brian Hutton and Owen Moore, previously told H&H she believes he is the best horse she has ever ridden.

    The combination’s Barbury result is even more impressive as it means Saphy has achieved the minimum eligibility requirements to step up to intermediate within three months of taking part in his first ever event, should Charlotte choose to do so.

    The pair are now entered in the novice at Cholmondeley Castle (27 to 28 July) and Homme House (5 to 7 August).

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