Two young event riders make their H&C and Badminton debuts

Danielle Dunn Badminton debuts
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Horse & Country is following two talented young eventers, making their Badminton debuts in just a few weeks time, with two exciting new shows premiering on H&C Play this weekend.

Toughest four-star

Find out what it takes to prepare for one of the world’s toughest four-star events by watching Danielle Dunn: Badminton Dreams available on H&C Play from Sunday 23 April. Or if you want to know how to train your horse for success – with just a couple of basic jumps ­– don’t miss our Masterclass Xtra with Becky Woolven, also available on H&C Play from Saturday 22 April.

Eventing is in Danielle’s blood as her mum Jacquie Toogood completed both Badminton and Burghley, back in the eighties. Danielle (pictured above) started riding aged three and competed in her first two-star event when she was just 16. She went on to be selected for the Young Rider European Championships in 2011 and 2013, and in 2015 she won team silver at the senior CIC2* Europeans.

Life-long dream

With help from British Eventing’s (BE) new performance manager Richard Waygood, Danielle had her best year yet in 2016. She came seventh in the Under-25 Championship at Bramham, 11th in the CCI3* at Blenheim and fifth at Chatsworth, and achieved a life-long dream of qualifying for Badminton.

Danielle also owes much of her success to Zocarla BHL, who she describes as a “little mare with the heart of a lion, who has gone above and beyond anyone’s expectations”.

In addition to making their Badminton debut, Danielle and Zocarla will be competing in their first senior Nations Cup at the end of May at Strzegom in Poland.

Find out more about this great partnership and what it takes to prepare for Badminton – from picking the right outfit for the trot up, to getting the training basics rights – by watching Danielle Dunn: Badminton Dreams.

Unlikely eventer

Another one to watch at Badminton is Becky Woolven. By Becky’s own admission her rise to the top has been a tough, as she comes from a non-horsey family and had to buy and sell horses to fund her passion.

Becky had her first taste of eventing aged 14 with a pony called Bluey, who she produced herself. Three years later she competed in her first BE competition and by the age of 21 she had produced her horse to advanced level.

It was when she bought an unlikely eventer for £4,000 from a hunt yard that her career really took off. Charlton Down Riverdance (aka ‘Socks’) is a chunky Irish-bred gelding who Becky says was “useless” at showjumping when they first started eventing, although he has always been a cross-country machine.

Best first timer

With help from her trainer, former Olympic rider Roland Fernyhough, Becky improved Sock’s showjumping score and they moved up the grades. In 2015 they competed in their first three-star event at Bramham, where Socks – aged just nine – was one of only four horses to finish on his dressage score. The following year Becky completed her first four-star at Burghley and was awarded the prize for the ‘best first timer’ after achieving a very respectable 17th place.

Becky shares her training tips in her Masterclass Xtra, which looks at variety of exercises you can try at home, using a limited number of fences.

Subscribe to H&C Play to watch Masterclass Xtra: Becky Woolven, available from Saturday 22 April. Also premiering on H&C Play is Danielle Dunn: Badminton Dreams, available from Sunday 23 April.

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