Success stories Sweet Deal proves to be just that!

8th October 2019

(Written by Hannah Mustow) Sweet Deal, joined us in April 2015 after a career on both the flat and over hurdles. He raced as a 2 and 3-year-old for Jeremy Noseda, winning 2 races both at Goodwood before transferring to Nicky Henderson as a 4 and 5-year-old to continue his career over hurdles. He showed some useful form, winning at both Aintree and Uttoxeter, as well as placing in some good ‘Saturday’ handicaps at the likes of Ascot and Sandown, before seeing quite a tail-off in his form towards the end of his career and it became apparent that he had somewhat fallen out of love with the game. Not an overly big horse, perhaps he found the heavy winter ground and carrying some fairly hefty weights in handicaps less to his liking. Who knows, unfortunately they can’t talk! Throughout his career, Sweet Deal had raced in the colours of Mrs Susan Roy, wife of RoR Chairman Paul Roy.

At that time, my very good friend, Jane Allison, was involved in the management of Mr Roy’s string of horses and was also responsible for finding them suitable homes at the end of their racing careers. Having assessed Sweet Deal at her yard, she was kind enough to get in touch and say that she might have an eventing type that would suit my then 16yo daughter, Emily.

He’s always had the kindest temperament and is an absolute pleasure to deal with. A small child could look after him in the stable.

From a retraining point of view, I’d love to say he was all straightforward and went from racehorse to event horse with a minimum of fuss but I’d being lying! The first couple of months were largely spent planting himself in the school, refusing to go forward and accept the leg, and if he did it would usually be hanging onto one side of the bit. Undoubtedly, he was finding the whole process quite challenging, probably more from a physical point of view than a mental one. So, it was just endless patience on Emily’s part and slowly but surely she started to turn him around. A similar story with the jumping – he always had the most amazing technique over a fence but sometimes lacked a bit of self-belief. The first time we took him cross country schooling he wouldn’t go near a fence and clearly couldn’t understand why he had to do all these things on his own. But again, endless patience on Emily’s part and he slowly started to get the hang of things. Deep down I always thought he had a lot of talent – it was just a case of finding a way to bring it out.

His early eventing days were nothing to shout home about. Again, a little bit insecure at times, but eventually he started to get his act together and had a few good results at grassroots level with Emily.

In 2018, Emily went off to be a working pupil with Harry Meade and unfortunately she couldn’t take all 3 of her horses with her, so I took the decision to send Sweet Deal to a local professional to be produced for sale later that season. Unfortunately, he didn’t thrive in that particular environment and I collected him a couple of months later looking, very disappointingly, a shadow of his former self. Cue Amelia Walker coming into his life! Amelia pretty much had the same brief, to prepare him for sale at the end of 2018. But over the next few weeks a bit of a transformation took place and they were so obviously striking up a great partnership. By mid August he was having his first run in a BE90 at Solihull, finishing 2nd on his dressage score. That was followed by another 2nd at Keysoe a couple of weeks later. We were rolling and by the end of last season, in just the space of 3 months, he had completed his first BE Novice. This season he’s had some more good runs at BE Novice level, including completing his first CCI2*S.

We had the KBIS RoR Dressage Championships at Blenheim spotted earlier in the summer but thought with his eventing schedule it would be unlikely we’d find the time to qualify him. But with the hard summer ground we decided to give him a break from eventing and get him strutting his stuff between the white boards! In just a handful of outings he gained his qualifying scores at Elementary level and off to Blenheim it was. As they say ……. the rest is history! And just to cap a memorable week, 3 days after Blenheim he went up to Yorkshire to do the BE Novice at Allerton Park, finishing a very creditable 7th with a super clear cross country.

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