This eventing star recently returned to competition for the first time since picking up an injury at Badminton 2019. Pippa Roome finds out why he’s so special...
Event horse Mr Bass – vital statistics
Breeding: Carrico x Exorbitant XX
Breeder: Henning Heinz, Tremsbuettel (Germany)
Stable name: Chuck
Owners: Laura Collett, Nick and Lyn How and Keith and Louise Scott
Rider: Laura Collett
Greatest achievements: first Camphire young horse CCI2*-S 2014; first seven-year-old World Championships CCI3*-L at Le Lion D’Angers 2015; second Blenheim eight- and nine-year-old CCI4*-S and fifth Boekelo CCI4*-L 2016; first Ballindenisk CCI4*-S, first Burgham CCI4*-S and second Blenheim CCI4*-L 2017; fourth Chatsworth Event Rider Masters CCI4*-S, first Houghton CCI4*-S, second Luhmühlen CCI5* and third Haras du Pin CCI4*-S 2018; fourth Belton CCI4*-S 2019 (all class names updated to current star levels).
Mr Bass’s rider Laura Collett
“I was at Peter Thomsen’s yard in Germany, looking for young horses to produce to sell on, the day Mr Bass arrived, pretty much unbroken. I was lucky – I asked the price before we loose-jumped him and Peter said the price would have been quite different the next day.
“I sold ‘Chuck’ to an owner halfway through his five-year-old year, but he failed the vet on X-rays, so my vet told me to have fun on him until something went wrong. We did things like the indoor Derby in Stuttgart. Touch wood, the points flagged on the X-rays have never caused an issue.
“When he was seven, Keith Scott and Nick How came on board to help me run him and it’s gone from there. I still think of him as my fun horse – he’s like my best friend and owes none of us anything.
“Chuck knows he’s special and always wants to be the centre of attention. He has the ability to make you feel like you’ve never looked after a horse before. If he does something naughty, he gives you a look as if to say, ‘It wasn’t me,’ and you forgive him.
“He’s a true competitor and wants to win – the more you throw at him, the more he says, ‘Bring it on.’ He wants it just as much as I do, which is why we have such a good partnership.”
Travelling groom Zanie King
“Chuck is a huge yard favourite and very important to me. He’s quite demanding and knows he’s top dog, so if you’re around, he insists on attention, but he’s not fragile, needy or shy. He’s so self-assured and confident – he eats, drinks and does what he needs to do every day. He doesn’t change away from home, so he’s not tricky in that respect.
“But I’ve never known a horse who can make me look like such an amateur. He’ll bite you or step on your toe when you’re doing up his girth. Many a time at events I’ve been dragged off when I’m grazing him and he decides he needs to go somewhere. He makes me look a total idiot, but his strength of character is endearing to me and he makes me laugh.
“Chuck doesn’t exude talent, but he’s a real workaholic and always wants to perform.
“There were tears for Laura and I after his first cross-country schooling outing, after his first run at Bicton and when we saw him sound and well the day after. It means so much to have him back. The unique partnership between him and Laura really gets me. He was never earmarked to be what he’s gone on to be and they’ve done everything together; I have huge respect for them both.”
Judge Clare Deithrick’s view of event horse Mr Bass
“I loved Mr Bass when I judged him doing the five-star test at Bicton and gave him 74.63%.
“He’s a quality, good-moving horse and Laura rode a really good test, but what stood out was he and Laura looked really harmonious, which isn’t the case with a lot of pairs.
“Some riders look like they are really concentrating – but Laura and Mr Bass looked very happy, which is probably why I got the impression they worked well together.
“I was judging from the side of the arena, at B, and Mr Bass was one of the horses with really good ground cover when going down the long side in extended canter.
“There were a lot of lovely horses in that class, but I remembered him because they looked like a real partnership. Afterwards, I realised she has had him a long time, but I didn’t know that when I was judging them.”
H&H, 13 August 2020
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Laura dispenses with her saddle and schools her novice six-year-old Mr Bass over some sizeable fences