Awesome Freddie bounces back to win at Hickstead
Samantha Wallin and Awesome Freddie were crowned champions in Hickstead’s Longines International Arena on Sunday, winning the Retraining of Racehorses Tattersalls Thoroughbred Show Series Championship.
The pair were chosen by a judging panel that included legendary trainer Sir Mark Prescott, and they saw off competition from several star racehorses, including Grandeur and Annacotty.
Awesome Freddie, a 14-year-old gelding, won twice under rules during his racing career. He was trained by Dan Skelton – who is the son of Olympic showjumper and Hickstead regular Nick Skelton. But Awesome Freddie was never going to quite live up to his name as a racehorse, so a change of job beckoned.
Fortunately, when Wallin came across him, she immediately spotted his potential – and in doing so, Awesome Freddie found his calling.
“He’s not easy – he’s very, very tricky. He wouldn’t be a happy hacker, so there’s no other job for him. He’s quite naughty, really. He’s very lucky these classes are on, because they’re perfect for him,” says Wallin.
“We’ve been showing him for three years now, and it’s taken him all this time to come right. But he loves it here – he’s been placed at the Longines Royal International Horse Show in the hunter classes. I knew he’d love this show, too.”
Awesome Freddie’s win is made even more poignant by the fact that he nearly died in November, after undergoing a hernia operation. He then spent a period of time recovering on a drip.
“It was very touch-and-go for a while - he was very nearly dead,” Wallin says. “I can’t believe he’s come back so well. We’ve taken it slowly with him, and he hasn’t done much this year – but he was actually supposed to have six months off, so we’ve gone quickly enough with him. But he’s well.”
The Retraining of Racehorses classes are one of several initiatives designed to create a second career for horses coming off the track. In Awesome Freddie’s case, he remains supported by Gwen Meacham, who bred him and owned him throughout his career. Meacham then gave the horse to Wallin, who she connected with via showing and dressage star Louise Bell.
“It’s lovely that the owner is here today; she comes to the shows and still loves it,” says Wallin, who enjoyed her first win in the Longines International Arena today. “Just to get through and ride around in the main arena is amazing – the atmosphere is electric. It’s just completely phenomenal; it really takes your breath away. Everything is done brilliantly here.”
RoR is always interested to hear of other success stories so please email us and send a photograph of your own story.
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