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‘One year we did pony fancy dress with British beef as our theme’: five minutes with Alice Oppenheimer

The dressage rider on competitive fancy dress and why she’d love to have dinner with Sir Winston Churchill.

All about Alice:

Alice Oppenheimer is an international grand prix rider with a number of national and international titles to her name, and has ridden for Britain on Nations Cup teams. She is based in Hampshire, at her family’s Headmore Stud.It has to be Headmore Bella Ruby (pictured, left). She’s only nine but is already showing all the ability to be a good grand prix horse. The first day I rode her at home after she had been backed, I trotted two steps and said, “Oh my God, this horse is amazing.” My mum thought she looked a bit ordinary, but I could just feel her endless scope and suppleness. As Bella has got stronger she has shown more and more impressive movement, and now Mum tries to say she always knew she’d be good really!

Describe your first pony…

My sister Kate and I shared two Shetlands, Jimmy and Bertie. Jimmy was naughty, but Bertie was a gem. We used to do a lot of fancy dress – my mum was very competitive and spent ages making the outfits. We always had a theme – one year we did “British beef”. Bertie was dressed as a cow, complete with udders, and I was a butcher and Kate was a farmer.

What are your superstitions?

I’m not crazy superstitious – I don’t have to wear the same socks for competitions for example – but I do have to put on everything in the same order. It’s more to do with routine than superstition, really. I do salute the odd magpie though.

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