Fredericks Forum

By: Horse Deals

Fredericks Forum
A long drive ahead: Clayton and Lucinda will be on the road for two days

Clayton and Lucinda are off to the World Cup final in Poland and say thank you to some of their most important team members — the grooms

As I write this, we’re getting ready to leave for the World Cup final in Poland. This has become an even more exciting prospect for Team Fredericks, as Lucinda has been given a wildcard to compete with Brit and will be heading for Strzegom along with Ben Along Time and me.

The pressure’s obviously on both of us, Lucinda because Brit’s undoubtedly the best eventing mare in the world and me because I’m aiming to win my third World Cup final with Ben. All I can say is that although we’re both going out there to do our best, our horses owe us nothing.

A lot of people have asked why these championships are being held in Poland. One reason is that it’s an emerging market for the sponsor, HSBC. Another is that Strzegom is very keen to hold top-class events; Matt Ryan, who’s been there to compete before, tells me that the ground’s fantastic and the people can’t do enough to help.

Also, we need these Eastern European countries to come into our sport. Eventing’s a truly international discipline and we need to build up the numbers from countries who have all the promise — and there are some very nice horses coming out of Poland — but until now have had a lower profile.

I’ll be starting the two-day drive still on a high from the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe, where Bendigo won the Dodson & Horell British Novice Championship. He’s a very obedient, good-moving, lovely looking horse who is closely related to Ben, so I have high hopes for him.

We reckon he also has high hopes for himself. When he went down for the prize-giving, he was swamped by people all around him, but he basked in all the attention. Lisa, my groom, said he really soaked it all up.

A success like that is a real team achievement. Bendigo (Charlie) is the one who’s stepped into Nullabor’s shoes; when we lost Nullabor at Saumur last year it was really hard and I know Lisa was devastated. While no horse can ever replace another because they’re such individuals, Charlie has earned his place in his own right.

Although Lucinda and I get attached to our horses, in some ways our grooms perhaps get closer to some of them because they’re looking after them every day. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that in some ways, it’s more important for the grooms to know the horses than the riders.

We keep an eye on the horses’ legs and their general well-being and soundness, but it’s the grooms who can notice the very subtle changes. In our sport, noticing these tiny changes is everything. At one time I used to do it all myself, but now we’re so busy I tend to be off one horse and onto another, so the grooms’ input and skill is even more important.

It’s just as vital at a competition. If I had to explain what every horse had to wear and how it should be fitted, it would be exhausting. You need someone who knows the horses, knows you and can work with you.
Lisa sometimes complains that I don’t give her enough information, but even so, she does a great job. Coping with the horses is no problem for her — it’s coping with the rider that’s difficult!
Owners are also hugely important members of our team and I’m glad for the McAuleys — who own Ben and Charlie and also owned Nullabor — that they have a star and a rising star.

They’re the perfect owners: they never put pressure on me or try to tell me how to run the horses and have trusted me to find ones we can produce from the start to the top.

Our smallest stars, Brit’s embryo transfer babies by Jaguar Mail, are looking fantastic. Little Brit, a chestnut filly and Britannia Mail, a bay colt, look to have inherited the best characteristics of both their parents.

I think the one thing many breeders lack is the chance to make sure their youngsters go to the right people to be produced at the start of their careers, perhaps because it can be so expensive. For this reason, we’ve set up a foal syndicate.

We’ll be retaining a majority and offering the remaining shares in the hope of attracting people who can’t afford or don’t want to get into full ownership of an event horse but want the fun and satisfaction it can bring. That’s what Team Fredericks is all about — doing it as well as we can, but having fun at the same time.