Following an injury last season, Gemma Tattersall’s top horse Arctic Soul is feeling “better than ever” and gearing up for Badminton.
The pair placed third there last year, but ‘Spike’ then missed out on the Rio Olympics due to a minor injury. Gemma took QuickLook instead, who was relatively new to top level eventing.
Spike is Gemma’s only four-star horse, and she is looking forward to the prospect of returning to Badminton for their fourth time together.
“It’s amazing to have him back,” Gemma told H&C. “He’s feeling and looking better than ever in his life, so it’s really exciting to have him aiming for Badminton. It’s a nice buzz for the team at home.”
Last year’s third place, behind winner Michael Jung and Andreas Ostholt, was a “dream come true” for the 31-year-old. What made their performance even more special was Spike jumped clear in the showjumping, which has been his weakest phase. According to Gemma he’s a careful horse, but gets worried by the crowd.
“He scared of the noise and when he’s tense he can have a fence down,” explains Gemma. “So to jump clear on the final day, with the whole crowed praying for me, was a massive deal for him.”
Tension can also be a problem in the dressage and, as a full Thoroughbred, Gemma says he’s not really built for this phase.
“We have to work hard at it, but he’s an established four-star horse and he knows all the moves,” says Gemma. “I’ve just got to keep him good in the brain and nail it on the day.”
So can she go one better this year – or even win the biggest prize in eventing?
“I’d love to, but to better last year would be beyond all my wildest dreams,” said Gemma. “My main aim is to go there and be competitive and do our best. I’ll do the best preparation I can and have him feeling on top of his game.”
To find out how Gemma prepares and trains her horses for competition – from BE90 up to four-star – don’t miss her Masterclass Xtra, which premieres on H&C Play this Saturday 11 March.