Posted on 22nd December 2019 by Sue Tomlinson
As DEHQ closes down for Christmas, with all the horses now safely away on their well earned winter breaks and the hard working human members of team DE scattered to various holiday destinations across the globe, now seems as good a time as any to look back over the ups and downs of 2019.
With around 30 horses on site ranging from gangly 4 yr olds to experienced 4* campaigners, tailoring an individual event plan for each horse is no mean feat. Especially when you remember that horses, by their very nature, love nothing more than ruining a perfectly well laid plan! That being said, it’s been a great year for the horses and riders based at DEHQ with some top results coming in across the board. What follows is therefore a culmination of: team work meeting hard work, training when it’s raining, a whole lot of coffee and the most vital ingredient to success with horses, more than a pinch of good luck!
Amelia was new to the team this January but she has fitted in straight away working alongside Sue, Hayley and Craig, producing some of our lovely sales horses. She has had a super first season with us laying great foundations in some of our up and coming young superstars.
5yr old Dassett Rock Star (Rocky) shone all season proving to be a very impressive competitor, with 3 back to back wins at BE100 level before finishing his season with a 27 double clear at Gatcombe Novice and an impressive 3rd place at the 5yr old National Championships at Osberton. With a dressage mark of 30 or below at every event and no XC penalties to his name, he really is one to watch next season.
Fellow 5yr old Dassett Select (JJ) has also impressed this year, finishing top 10 in all his BE100 starts as well as jumping clear around 2 novice events before placing 5th at the 5yr old National Championships. His attitude has been outstanding all year which was reflected again by a faultless season XC – we are all sure he has a big future ahead of him.
Late to start but quick to impress, the diminutive little grey, Dassett Cool Enough (Richie), was ready to go just in time to squeeze in two runs before the season ended. Hayley piloted his first time out for a double clear and 8th slot, setting him up beautifully for a 30, double clear win with Amelia at his second attempt! He might be small, but he sure is mighty!
Talking of small and mighty, Boleybawn Dassett Cruise (Joey) started his season off in excellent form with six back to back double clears, including a great run round his first international at Rockingham CCI2-S. This cheeky 7yr old then made the upgrade to Intermediate with ease and his normal amount of Joey confidence!! While an issue with his teeth caused some discomfort, upsetting his dressage marks in the middle of the season, this little chap looked every bit the jumping machine. He made nothing of some of the big autumn tracks. A very sore skin rash took its toll in the jumping phase of his final run of the year at Bicton CCI2-L resulting in a very uncharacteristic 3 down. But we are all confident that this little chap will be back on form and raring to go come 2020…and heading for an upgrade to Advanced!
Craig’s 7yr olds started the season in flying form with both ARD Dassett Spectre (Digby) and MBF Dassett Legacy (Zam) placing at their first events, looking fit and ready to run. Both upgraded with ease and placed well in their Intermediate runs.
Digby solidified his reputation for being one of the most genuine and talented horses on the circuit by qualifying for next years Intermediate Championships with a 2nd place at Farley Hall Intermediate, as well as qualifying for this year’s Novice Championships with a 2nd place in the NRF at Little Downham. Competing at the Festival of Eventing, held at Gatcombe Park every year, is always great fun and it’s a testament to the whole team that we had 2 horses qualified to compete at this prestigious event. Craig and Digby did a great job producing yet another confident double clear with only time faults dropping them out of the top 10. With some good results under his belt and a great career ahead of him we were thrilled to find this lovely horse a new home with British junior rider Gini Hope. We all miss this special horse very much (especially Krzysztof) but look forward to seeing him out and about over the years.
Everyone at Team DE had very high hopes for Zam and he didn’t disappoint. After securing a number of top ten placings and double clears at Intermediate level he has really proved his worth with a superb double clear around his first Advanced level event in the Intermediate Championships at Gatcombe Park. We have been careful not to rush Zam as he is a big horse who is yet to fully develop his strength, but despite being the only 7yr old in the field, he cruised around the imposing track with ease. After much deliberation it was decided that although it’s a big ask, no horse deserved a chance to compete at Le Lion World Championships more than Zam, meaning we would round up his season with first the National 7yr olds Championships at Osberton before heading to France for the big one…! A solid and faultless jumping performance at Osberton made up for a slightly disappointing dressage mark which left us in 11th place overall and with a good idea about what we needed to work on before Le Lion! We were thrilled with 2 out of the 3 phases in Le Lion. But for the first time EVER Zam incurred XC faults for 2 silly mistakes, neither of which did anything to knock his confidence or stop him from believing he had won the whole show!! A shame, that as is so often the case, his result on paper didn’t really reflect on his performance throughout the week. But needless to say, we have come away from this year knowing that we have a real superstar for the future.
Another 5yr old off to a great start is the impressive and independent Dassett Curra Candy (Candy). Craig’s only 5 yr old ride this year started the season as she meant to go on, with an assured double clear win in her first unaffiliated event. Multiple double clears and top ten results at BE100 events followed before she made a seamless upgrade to Novice at Gatcombe with another double clear for 8th place. It’s no surprise this talented mare was another Dassett to finish the season without a single XC fault to her name!
Two lovely 6 yr olds who also had good seasons under Craig and Amelia have now moved on to continue their careers on U.S. soil. The impressive Dassett Empire (Toby), who is one of the best jumpers on the circuit, gained several placings at Novice level before finishing off his season in the young horse CCI2-S at Bicton. He really consolidated everything he had learnt throughout the season finishing on his dressage mark for a very respectable 4th place.
The super fancy and athletic, CSF Dassett Decoy (Flipper), enjoyed some great results with Amelia as well as some green mistakes throughout the season, yet his talent and potential always shone through and we wish their new jockeys great success with these two promising young horses.
Kate, ably assisted by Lauren, also had a great season with her string of ownered horses and sales youngsters being put through their paces. With Dassett Jack (Jack) back on form through the spring events feeling as fit as a fiddle and jumping as well as he ever has at home – we all had high hopes that this miracle horse was in for a great season. This was however not to be, with his original injury fully healed, it was a big disappointment to discover in July that he wasn’t quite right. Therefore putting an end to this year’s campaign. Most importantly he remains happy out in the field and is most definitely still top dog!
HHS Dassett Class (Matt), who was new to eventing this year, had his work cut out catching up with all the other 7 yr olds at DEHQ, but catch up he did and in fine style! From his first H/C BE90 in March, he came on in leaps and bounds to finish the season with an impressive top 20 finish at the CCI3-S National 7yr old Championships! This horse’s ability to move up the grades so quickly is testament to his amazing temperament and with a winter’s training under his belt, we are all excited to see where this talented horse will go next year.
Drombane Dassett (Pete) was another one of Kate’s rides moving up the grades this season. This ultra bold and scopey horse is a real XC machine flying around Burgham CCI3-S with ease as well as picking up a couple of placings at Intermediate level. Unfortunately, Pete suffered a badly banged knee which needed surgical repair putting an early end to his season. Thankfully his prognosis is good and we are confident that this tough and talented horse will be back out doing what he loves best in no time.
Andrea Burdett’s lovely mare, Dassett Forever Autumn (Autumn), had a great season with Kate piloting her to 5 out of 6 top 10 spots at BE100 level as well as producing a lovely double clear round her first Novice. Kate sourced this mare from Ireland as a horse that both she and Andrea could enjoy and it seems to have worked out rather well! Not only did Andrea have great success at various dressage shows but she also managed to come 1st and 2nd in the two events she completed with her! Well done Andrea!
Other youngsters who are on the up under Kate include Dassett Showgirl (Lola), who is an exceptional jumper and proved herself to be brave and the ultimate professional, placing with double clears at BE100 level and now all set to start 2020 with a bang. Her super fancy half brother, Dassett Showman (Charlie), who Kate carefully produced all year, has now been sold to New Zealand team rider Lucy Jackson. We wish Lucy all the luck with this super talented, exciting young horse and cannot wait to see him in action next year.
Dassett Code (Smartie), who produced placings at Novice level with both Craig and Amelia before upgrading to Intermediate, has been sold to Kate’s younger sister Alice, and has already given her a great feel around their first few events as a combination.
Alice Midmer has also found a great partner in FWS Dassett Clover (Al), who upgraded to Novice this year completing their season with a 100% clear XC record.
When not helping Kate, Amelia and Craig with their rides, Hayley has been busy upgrading her lovely mare Dassett Diamond (Darcy). As she grows in strength and confidence this super mare is sure to gain some great results, especially if she keeps getting a 22 in the dressage!
A special mention must go to to a much loved young horse that we lost this year, Philip Rocher’s Dassett Gold (Dave). Starting his career as Kate’s dad’s racehorse, he was in training with Paul Webber before coming to DEHQ as a 5 yr old looking for a new career. Although moments of exuberance earned him the nickname ‘Dangerous Dave’ or ‘Disco Dave’ when throwing some pretty special trademark shapes, Dave was one of the sweetest and kindest horses on the yard. Kate quickly struck up a great bond with him, giving him the time he needed to develop and make the transition from racing to eventing. It soon became apparent that his bold and careful jumping technique coupled with his natural ability to gallop was going to make him an excellent XC horse, with Kate often saying he could be one of the best horses she had ever ridden across the country. Sadly, shortly after an easy upgrade to Novice following a bunch of successful BE100 runs, it was apparent that our boy wasn’t feeling himself and within a week he was gone. Heartbreakingly, a rare diagnosis of an untreatable tumour within the chest cavity meant that the decision was made to put Dave to sleep. With so much potential and such a gentle soul, we all feel the void he has left on the yard and we thank our vets Terry and Ed from Barrestown clinic for taking such good care of him and putting him to rest when the time came.
But on a brighter note, with a yard full of promising horses all looking to build on this years success, as well as a bunch of new youngsters to wiggle, waggle, flap, and pat round their first events as they learn all about what it is to be an event horse, let’s hope next year goes as well!!!
As always, the team behind the horses is what keeps the whole show rolling and this year has been no exception. The tireless efforts of staff, supporters, partners, parents and clients make all the early starts, long days and late finishes worthwhile. And, although our constant demand for sausage rolls and coffee must take its toll, we certainly couldn’t do it without you!!!