‘Utterly useless’ £100k racehorse qualifies for showjumping championship

  • He may not have emulated Best Mate or Frankel on the racetrack, but 10-year-old ex-racehorse Discours D’Un Roi looks to have found his forte over the coloured poles after an eye-catching showjumping win at Prestige Equestrian Centre in Gloucestershire recently.

    The chestnut gelding and his rider Annabel McCourt picked up a ticket for the prestigious Blue Chip Winter Championship Finals in April thanks to a convincing victory in the show’s Voltaire Design winter novice qualifier.

    “He’s very careful and jumps more like a warmblood,” said Annabel.

    “He cost a lot of money – over £100k – and after he came to England he ran three or four times over here and was utterly useless, so we bought him!

    “It was basically a case of, ‘Take him, he eats too much!’”

    Discours D’Un Roi was bred in France by the stallion Vision D’Etat, out of a Sabrehill mare, and went into training with Xavier Thomas-Demeaulte. He made his racecourse debut as a three-year-old, finishing mid-field in two races on the Flat.

    When he moved to France’s champion jumps trainer Guillaume Macaire, he managed to rack up a couple of wins over hurdles before being bought in 2017 by Sullivan Bloodstock Limited when he joined the stables of the legendary Nicky Henderson

    The 16.3hh gelding made his racecourse debut in England in a handicap hurdle at Sandown Park with Noel Fehily in the saddle, but finished last of the nine runners. He did not fare much better when fourth in a five-runner hurdle at Ludlow, making “no impression” under Sean Bowen, and connections decided to call it a day after he was pulled up at Chepstow in October with Nico De Boinville riding.

    But “Rio” has proved a great all-rounder for Annabel since she took the reins soon after.

    “I have had him for four years now and he is a diamond,” explained Annabel, who is married to 1990 Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey Graham McCourt, who won the race on 100/1 shot Norton’s Coin.

    Having won in showing classes, been hunting and team chasing and tried his hand at eventing, Rio was registered with British Showjumping last year on the advice of Annabel’s coach Stella Bunn, who believed it would be his forte.

    “He placed sixth in the RoR [Retraining of Racehorses] champs at Stoneleigh and has won about £200, even though he’s not been out too many times, as he’s pretty consistent,” Annabel said.

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