It’s hard enough to find one good horse – but occasionally you hit the jackpot and find two stars at the same time. Victoria Goff tracks down some people who have been lucky enough to do just that...
Buying a horse can be a frustrating process. Wading through adverts, deciphering sales speak, elusive sellers, disappointing viewings… Even when you do find the right horse, you have to fend off other buyers, haggle over a price, and hope it passes the vet. If finding one gem is difficult enough, imagine how rare it is to buy two brilliant horses on the same day. Rare – but not impossible.
Irish showjumper Commandant John Ledingham made history in 1994 when becoming the first rider to win the Hickstead speed Derby and Derby in the same year, a feat he repeated 12 months later with the same pair of horses. John found his winning horses, Kilbaha (pictured above) and Castlepollard, on the same day, having persuaded the purchase board – who bought all the horses for the Irish Equitation School – to buy them for him to ride.
“We were always on the lookout for the next superstar,” recalls John, who had seen both horses as six-year-olds jumping at a big show in Navan. “It was a busy indoor show with a small warm-up arena, which wasn’t the best place to try horses, so we asked Paul Darragh if we could come down to his place about 20 minutes away.”