Despite having a “cheeky side”, this eventer has an impressive record at five-star level with rider Imogen Murray. Hannah Lemieux speaks to his connections to find out what makes him tick...
Breeding: Young Convinced x Coevers Diamond Boy
Owners: Aivar Ward and MS Team
Rider: Imogen Murray
Breeder: Pat Coffey
Greatest achievements: sixth Burghley CCI5*-L 2019; sixth Le Pin au Haras CCI4*-S 2019; eighth Badminton CCI5*-L 2019; first Great Witchingham advanced intermediate 2019; 12th Blenheim CCI3* 2016 (now CCI4*-L); third Barbury CIC2* 2016 (now CCI3*-S); completed Badminton and Burghley 2017, 2018 and 2019, finishing in the top 21 every time.
Rider Imogen Murray says…
“‘CHARLES’ has a cheeky side and a lot of character. He wasn’t the easiest to ride as a young horse; he was naughty and had a tendency to run out. It took us a while to get onto the same page as each other.
“Now I know his quirks, I wouldn’t change him for the world. My job as his rider is not to dictate or change him, but to work with him. He loves his cross-country and although he dislikes dressage, he’s getting better every year, he just finds it physically hard.
“He will always be a special horse to me and without him I wouldn’t be riding as a career – he helped put my name on the map. He’s been so consistent and loves Burghley and Badminton, the bigger the better for him. We have grown and learnt together; he is the reason I have gained experience as an event rider.”
Owner Aivar Ward says…
“WE purchased Charles at Goresbridge sales in Ireland as a four-year-old. He caught my wife Terry’s eye and she said, ‘I think we should buy that horse.’ He was a bargain at €8,400.
“I put him up for sale a few weeks after I brought him home. Imogen came to look at him for someone else to ride, but ended up liking him so much herself, so I asked her to sit on him and it went from there really. I had followed racing but never eventing before. Everyone was telling me I had a potential four-star [now five-star] horse on my hands, but I had no idea what that meant.
“Watching them compete at Badminton and Burghley was a fantastic experience, and we love the sport now. Imogen has been so patient and dedicated to him. I have had considerable offers for him but I would never sell him now – he owes us nothing and you cannot put a price on the happiness he has given us as owners.
“I am currently building a new cabinet at home, which will be especially for all their trophies and rosettes – past, present and future.”
Imogen’s mother and chief supporter Kim Murray says…
“AT the start, Charles just used to come and stay at ours the night before a competition, but then he started jumping out of his field at Aivar’s, so he decided to stable Charles with us. He can still jump out of the field, and it is often when he is getting cold – he much prefers the hot days and would live in the south of France if he could.
“He’s a tough boy and very opinionated, I would say he rules us. He only allows certain people to do certain jobs – for example, only I can clip him – he’s a bit of a diva. He also gets angry if you don’t have mints in your hand after the showjumping and has nearly taken me off my feet before in fury.
“Until the age of 10, we used to have to take him to all events with us in the lorry because he was just too naughty to leave at home. If he was a child at school, he’d be the naughty one winding up the teachers, but also naturally talented and academic so could get away with it.”
H&H 24 September 2020
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