Rosie Thomas: Horse Rider, Badminton
PUBLISHED: 13:46 31 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:46 15 June 2015
Event rider Rosie Thomas realised her dream when making her debut at last year's world-famous Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, and can't wait to tackle the formidable fences again this year.
Rosie, aged 28, epitomises the spirit of the sport that she loves, and the sport's governing body, British Eventing, recognised this when she was awarded the Jemima Johnson Memorial Trophy at their 2008 Annual Awards. Rosie also received the Martin Whiteley Trophy awarded to the top British rider who has gained the most points on one horse and who has never been entitled to wear any Union Jack flag. Rosie accumulated 160 points in just seven outings on her brilliant horse Barry's Best, who cost just £3,000. Rosie declares, "He is so very, very special, such a star."
At Badminton 2008, Rosie and Barry's Best went clear across-country, accumulating 12 time penalties. Two show jumps down on the final day put them in 21st place. Rosie recalls, "It was awesome, a dream come true really. Something I've always watched and been so desperate to do, and I couldn't believe I was actually doing it!"
Rosie really sprung into the limelight when the pair had the unenviable task of being trailblazers at the 2008 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. Rosie rode a real scorcher, showing everyone how to do it with an exemplary demonstration of cross-country riding. She recalled, "Having had two good results previously (at Burghley) gave me so much more confidence and I decided to go for it, I had nothing to lose, and I know that he is a bold horse."
They had one nasty moment, three from home, with Rose recounting, "That was because I was getting too excited about the time, which was a bit premature, so I gave myself a talking to and got a grip." They were the only combination, apart from the winners, William Fox-Pitt and Tamarillo, to go clear within the optimum time; which was quite an achievement, and finished the event in a highly creditable 13th place.
Rosie has brought Barry's Best on since he was a four-year-old, he is now aged 15, so the pair know each other inside out. They have the enviable record of having gone clear cross-country in every competition they have entered during the past three seasons. But things were not always been plain sailing in the early days, with Rosie admitting, "He was incredibly difficult to break, very nervous, we had to gain his trust, but once we'd got it he'd do anything."
At the 2007 Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe, the pair carried off the Hamptons inter-national trophy for the highest-placed owner/rider in the British Open. They finished 11th overall, again demonstrating their prowess across country by recording one of the fastest times. Rosie has also competed abroad, travelling to the Aachen Festival and to Luhmuehlen.
She is based at the family's Grafton Farm Riding Centre, which is situated on a 300-acre working farm at Bockleton, near Bromyard, in unspoilt, rolling countryside, with lovely views to the Welsh hills.
Rosie and her mother, Sue, instruct at Grafton Farm, and Rosie is chief instructor for the Ludlow branch of the Pony Club and is a Pony Club examiner. Rosie's sister, Claire, who is a fully qualified equine dental technician, is very much an integral part of the set up.
Rosie has 12 horses to event including some home-bred ones, such as Graftons Jackpot and Graftons Ready Freddie. Harry Hotspur, who collected a third at Broadway, returns to action, and possibly Watzmann, who won a pre-novice at Chepstow in 2008, but was for sale at the time of our interview. She also takes horses for schooling and breaking and is seeking rides for the 2008 season, at all levels.
Looking ahead to Badminton, Rosie says, "Having got one (Badminton) under our belts, I think we can really knuckle down this year. I know what to expect, so hopefully we can be very competitive. I'm really looking forward to it."
This year's Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials run from May 7-10 and celebrate the event's 60th anniversary.
Box office: 01454 218375; www.badminton-horse.co.uk
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Dates for this month
5: Cotswold Hunt point-to-point (Andoversford). Tel: 01242 620682
5, 22 (evening), 29: Worcester National Hunt Races. Tel: 08702 202772; www.worcester.racecourse.co.uk
13: North Cotswold point-to-point (Paxford, near Chipping Campden). Tel: 01386 852207
13: Warwick Flat Races. Tel: 01926 491553; www.warwickracecourse.co.uk
14: Croome & West Warwickshire point-to-point (Upton-upon-Severn). Tel: 01905 381707
15, 16, 17 (evening): Cheltenham National Hunt Races. Tel: 01242 513014; www.cheltenham.co.uk
18: Worcestershire Hunt (Chaddesley Corbett, near Bromsgrove). Tel: 01905 391797
19: Cotswold Vale Farmers point-to-point (Andoversford). Tel: 01452 813344
19: Stratford-on-Avon National Hunt Races. Tel: 01789 267949; www.stratfordracecourse.net
25: Berkeley Hunt point-to-point (Woodford). Tel: 01453 811688