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Blenheim Horse Trials Evangeline Gaskell, 20, makes glowing debut

  • A 20-year-old who has been riding only since she was 12 made an eye-catching Blenheim Horse Trials debut in the CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-old horses. Evangeline Gaskell steered Halcyon Graf to a double clear and finished just outside the top 20.

    Her cross-country round was fabulous to watch, with Halcyon Graf eating up the ground and jumping boldly throughout. Evangeline admitted that her brakes could be improved, but the nine-year-old looked to find the job easy. Evangeline is trying her ride in a new bit – a double snaffle – and although he was still strong, she came home happy.

    “He is a show-off and he was having the time of his life,” said Evangeline. “He is special beyond special. He is my first horse at this level and I’ve brought him up from novice. He never even sweats; he is a true showman. He is with me for life now – no one else is having him!”

    Evangeline started riding because she was friends with Ellie Healy, who rode on the British pony team on Midnight Dancer.

    “I had a friend who had a pony and I thought, ‘I want to do that”,” explained Evangeline, who trains with Hayden Hankey, 10th in this class. “I was chucked in the deep end, so I got involved quite quickly. I’m extremely lucky to have such supportive parents. They aren’t horsey at all. So I basically live at Hayden’s yard – he is a phenomenal coach.”

    Five-star beckons for Blenheim Horse Trials debutant

    As for the special horse, he can be a character on the ground.

    “He’s by Grafenstolz and he’s a nightmare!” said Evangeline. “He’s amazing under saddle but he has separation anxiety if I bring him into the yard and then leave him, he goes mad; he tap dances like an Irish dancer. He just loves me, and I love him.”

    Next year is their oyster. Evangeline is eyeing up Bramham under-25 class and potentially an even bigger target.

    “Who knows,” she mused. “I would potentially like to do a five-star, as he is phenomenal. But we do need brakes, so we’ll get those sorted first.”

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