‘She’s 15hh, pregnant and blind in one eye’: rider finds an unusual winning formula at Hickstead

  • It takes a fast and bold horse to win in Hickstead’s international arena and Michael Duffy’s victorious Hickstead grade C championship ride Luidam’s Flame comes in an unusual package.

    The eight-year-old chestnut mare is just 15hh, blind in one eye and has just been scanned in foal to the stallion Freestyle.

    The mare was bred by Michael’s girlfriend Amy Inglis and her mother but was sold as a two-year-old, only for Michael to buy her back last year.

    “She’s Amy’s ride normally, I’m just the owner,” Michael said. “Amy jumped the under-25s at Olympia with her and she’s taking her to Bolesworth next week.

    “I was just short of a horse so I pinched her for the weekend.”

    The partnership nudged 0.59sec ahead of Balloon Cruise and fellow Irishman David Simpson to take the win, on the mare’s debut in this imposing ring. The Hickstead annual grade C championship in memory of Sarah Davidson was the second class of the day to run in the international area, at the first Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby meeting since 2019.

    “She is like a big pony to ride and that was quite small for her,” Michael said. “She’s been jumping 1.40ms but is still a grade C. It was a nice result for her first time in the main ring, she’s unbelievably competitive.

    “Although she can’t see out of her left eye, she’s no different to ride, you can spin her up to a fence left or right.”

    The horse is out of the mare Happy Ending, who Amy jumped in children-on-horses classes. Happy Ending had two foals, both to Luidam, one of which only grew to be a pony while this mare just made it to horse stature.

    “She’s a fun speed ride but she’ll jump 1.50ms, she’s proper quality,” added Michael, who also rode the stallion she is in foal to, Freestyle, when he worked for Shane Breen.

    “We’ll carry on jumping her this year until she’s four or five months pregnant and then she’ll have time off to have her foal,” he said. “She’s from a great mother line so I wanted to breed from that.”

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