‘Sometimes horses find you’: rider pays tribute to exceptional eventer

  • Vicky Brake has paid tribute to her exceptional four-star campaigner Looks Like Fun (“Sam”) who has died aged 22.

    Sam’s eventing career spanned 11 years and included 12 CCI4* starts.

    Vicky produced the 16.1hh gelding from a four-year-old and the pair enjoyed much success, on the national and international circuits.

    Their best results together included second place at Punchestown CCI3* in 2006 and 17th at Burghley in 2009.

    His owner, Ainslie Goulstone, came for lunch the day before Sam died of a suspected heart attack.

    “He was as fit as a flea and looked a picture,” said Vicky.

    “It was a beautiful day, she gave him loads of carrots and we reminisced about all the good memories.”

    Sam came into Vicky’s life almost by accident — she had been looking for a nice horse for a prospective first-time event horse owner, Ainslie, to enjoy.

    “His lovely owner Ainslie bought him when he was four, rising five, as her first event horse — and what a ride we had,” said Vicky.

    “Sometimes horses find you, they just happen, I wasn’t looking for a superstar.”

    Vicky had agreed to go and see some horses with Darrell Scaife, but the ones he had been interested in turned out not to be what he was looking for.

    The owner of these horses mentioned that Shirley Kernan was based nearby and might have something suitable, which is where Vicky found Sam.

    He is by Touch Down and out of the same dam as 2000 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Looks Like Trouble (Lavengaddy).

    He collected 714 British Eventing points during his career and retired from competition fit and well aged 17.

    During his retirement he enjoyed hunter trials, nannied the young horses and was often ridden by Vicky’s groom, Becca Chenery.

    He never had an injury or was lame, he did quite a few long-format three-days — we had a great time and a lot of fun,” added Vicky.

    “He wasn’t mad about dressage, but he did mellow a bit in his old age.

    “He came into his own when the going was bottomless because he would keep on galloping for ever.”

    She added while he would go on any ground, it is a shame he never had a Badminton where the going was heavy which may have “balanced out” his dressage mark.

    “We has a great time at Boekelo and Le Lion d’Angers and I had some great Barburys on him — he loved the cross-country at Barbury,” she said.

    “We went to Burghley one year and I was second to go — I’m not a fast rider on him — he bombed around the cross-country and picked up four time faults,” she said.

    “[Another competitor] was in the riders’ tent watching and said ‘the time can’t be difficult if Vicky only got four time faults’ — it later proved it was quite difficult,” she laughed.

    “That was one of his finest moments.”

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