Retired racing star Saphir Du Rheu makes eventing debut

Popular former racehorse Saphir Du Rheu has made his eventing debut and returned to the Cheltenham Festival a year on from his retirement.

The 10-year-old grey, formerly trained by Paul Nicholls, is enjoying life after racing with Charlotte Alexander.

He completed his first BE100 at Aston-le-Walls on 2 March, where the pair jumped clear inside the time across country.

“He has the most wonderful temperament,” Charlotte told H&H. “He is so bold and honest — we’ve been putting a lot of work into the basic things with Brian Hutton, who has been incredible.”

“Saffi” was back at Cheltenham on 12 March to take part in the Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) parade and to escort Champion Hurdle victor Espoir D’Allen to the winners’ enclosure.

“He retired after the Gold Cup at Cheltenham last year, so to have that transformation within a year is wonderful,” Charlotte said, adding he was “so well behaved”.

The French-bred gelding, who was previously a Highflyer Bloodstock purchase, was ridden by Charlotte in the parade and Guy Fitzearle, kennel-huntsman at the North Cotswold, for his escorting duties.

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Saffi has since been out team chasing at the Beaufort on 17 March, where he sped round leading the Boring Gorings.

Charlotte plans to continue team chasing him this season, with the Farmers’ Bloodhounds (24 March) and the national championships at the Fernie (31 March) next on his calendar. After that he will head back to the eventing circuit.

“He has the most super balanced canter, that is why it is all happening so easily for him,” said Charlotte.

“We are just taking it a day at a time and seeing how it all goes.”

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