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Jo Bates on Broadstone Dee | Ride of my life

Jo Bates and Broadstone Dee on their lap of honour after winning the Winston Churchill title at RIHS

Jo Bates, who won the riding horse championship at HOYS with Broadstone Dee, recalls a ride earlier this year when the combination lifted the prestigious Winston Churchill title at the Royal International, writes Carole Mortimer

Re-produced with kind permission of Horse & Hound

November 2002

Factfile

Broadstone Dee

  • Eight-year-old mare bred and owned by Elizabeth Walkinshaw of the Broadstone Stud
  • By Demonstrator out of the Thoroughbred mare Rustic River, by Country Retreat
  • 4-year-old - 1st at Whitchurch, 1st and champion at Cheshire, 2nd at East of England, 1st and champion at Moreton in Marsh, 2nd HOYS
  • 5-year-old - 1st and champion at Leicester County
  • 7-year-old - 4th at HOYS
  • 8-year-old - champion at Royal Windsor and Leicester County, reserve at East of England and Whitchurch, champion and Winston Churchill Supreme at Hickstead, champion at HOYS.

Jo Bates

Jo Bates is the joint-manager and trainer at the Broadstone Stud, where she has worked for nine years.

"Broadstone Dee was bred in 1995 by Elizabeth Walkinshaw at the Broadstone Stud in Oxfordshire.

She was for sale but as she was quiet and never pushed herself forward no one really took notice of her and it wasn't until she was three years old that she developed her own personality. When we broke her in, we realised that she had that 'something extra'.

We always planned a showing career for her and she contested - and won - her first novice riding horse class as a four-year-old at Whitchurch. She was second in her first open class at East of England, qualifying for HOYS, where she was second.

After Whitchurch, people began to notice her and after the Horse of the Year Show there were some serious offers. However, we knew she was special and as Elizabeth had always wanted to breed a top show horse, Dee was not for sale.

The next few seasons, she was only lightly shown, as we were concentrating on the dressage horses. This year, we decided that the season was hers - she had matured and really looked wonderful.

On her first outing she was champion at Leicester, qualifying for the Royal International at Hickstead.

On the Friday of Hickstead, I got up at 2am to plait her and we left the yard at 3.30am - fortunately, we were just ahead of a major accident on the M25, which really put the kibosh on a lot of competitors.

We were in the ring at 8am and Dee rose to the occasion, winning her class and the championship, which meant that we had to return on the Sunday for the Winston Churchill supreme championship.

I always follow the same rigmarole and I have to wear the same shirt, tie and gloves, carry the same cane and wear my lucky socks, which are now rather holey. My stock pin used to be worn by my grandmother, and Hilary Le Moignan loaned me her valuable top hat. I also make sure the horse wears the same tack.

I was the first of the five into the arena in front of judges Jennifer Williams, Jane Holderness-Roddam and David Kellow. Dee was up against the cob Rob Roy, hunter champion Spot On, the Arab Cas Ibn Kalibur and the champion hack, Marquis of Queensbury.

I knew that Dee was on top form and, as she adores a big atmosphere and loves to show off, I felt we had a chance. But for the first time ever I was terribly nervous, with a real feeling of butterflies, and I knew we would have to pull out the stops.

"Dee was remarkable - I felt that she had done all she could. It was a very special moment"

Fortunately, we were last to perform, which gave me the advantage of watching all the others. The applause after the other shows really lifted Dee and she floated in her trot. After a canter circle, I halted, did a rein-back, then went straight into right canter and did a flying change, which the audience applauded. We then galloped flat out in front of the stands, with the crowd whooping and cheering. We came back to canter and did another flying change, after which I rode the canter one-handed, then back to trot to the judges, where we halted.

The crowd was so enthusiastic. Dee was remarkable - I felt that she had done all she could and we'd been such a partnership. It was a very special moment that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

The judges gave us a row of nines - we had won. I admit to a few tears, as I was so proud of the horse.

Winning the championship had already fulfilled a personal ambition, but this was such a dream. The day was made extra special as Elizabeth, her breeder, won the Dorian Williams Trophy. Winning is always a team effort and we couldn't have possibly have done it without the team from Broadstone behind us."