Everyone loves a grey and Tom Jackson’s ride Capels Hollow Drift, who stars on the cover of this week’s Horse & Hound (6 October issue) alongside his rider, is certainly the stuff of dreams. The handsome 11-year-old son of Shannondale Sarco St Ghyvan has been the most impressive younger horse on the British five-star circuit this year, finishing second at Burghley Horse Trials earlier this month.
Bred by Jeanette Glynn, the Irish sports horse known as “Walshy” was bought as a foal by mother and daughter Sarah Webb and Milly Simmie from John Walsh. Milly evented the horse’s full brother, Cooley Willows Gift, who had several placings at novice before he was put down when he had an accident in the field. Sarah and Milly still co-own the horse, alongside Patricia Davenport.
Capels Hollow Drift started his career with Georgie Campbell (née Strang) and impressed from the off – he won five times in his first two years eventing, including taking top spot in a CIC* (now CCI2*-S) at Chilham Park in July 2017.
After that win, Georgie commented: “It was an amazing arena in front of the house and felt like a special occasion. A lot of horses found it spooky, but he was really grown up and did a lovely test, which still has room for improvement. His double clear felt surprisingly easy and quite effortless.”
Tom Jackson took over the ride in 2018 and the horse showed his potential again when he finished runner-up in the seven-year-old World Championships at Le Lion d’Angers that autumn. He progressed to finish eighth in the competitive CCI4*-L at Bicton in the summer of 2021 and made his first five-star bid at Badminton Horse Trials this spring, where he finished 16th.
“He’s a little bit short of experience with Covid, but I needn’t have worried as he was class the whole way round and made it feel quite easy. He stayed really with me and focused and I couldn’t be happier with him,” Tom said about his cross-country round at Badminton, in which the pair jumped clear with 10 time-faults.
“The whole weekend he’s gone above and beyond our expectations.”
In the fashion of a true big-time campaigner, Capels Hollow Drift had just two runs between Badminton and Burghley, a competitive fourth on his dressage score at Burgham in July and then a quiet run round an open intermediate at Aston-le-Walls in August.
At Burghley, Tom and Walshy lay 13th after dressage on 28.9 and climbed up the leaderboard by adding just 3.6 time-faults on cross-country day. Fourth going into showjumping, their classy clear elevated them to second.
“We dreamt of doing this well but to come here and do it is another thing. Pippa [Funnell] just said, ‘Concentrate on what you’re doing, ride like you normally do.’ Hopefully I did that,“ said Tom after his second place had been confirmed.
“We’ve been working quite hard for a while, and I do hope that a lovely horse like him can keep progressing and get us closer to team selection.”
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