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Sarah Skillin


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Where Are They Now? The Monart Grads Hitting the Big-Time

Karl Slezak and Hot Bobo. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The 2023 Monart Sale will see a record number of 170+ 3-year-olds enter the sales ring, and as day two of bidding begins, the action’s really hitting up — but what are these young horses’ predecessors up to now?

Hot Bobo – one of three purchases for Karl and Katlyn Slezak in the 2017 Monart Sale has proved to be a wise investment, producing multiple international victories for the US-based Canadian rider. Taking the CCI3*L win at Tryon International in 2022, followed by the CCI4*-S at this year’s big Kentucky fixture, earned the duo their spot at the Pan American Games. The highly-rated mare jumped an elusive double clear to secure Team Canada the Gold and cement their Paris 2024 qualification.

Kilcandra Capitol – the 10-year-old was successfully piloted by Ireland’s Susie Berry to a top five finish at Blair Castle CCI4*L in 2022.  The Orestus gelding has proved to be a consistent performer for one of Ireland’s rising stars and made his team debut at CHIO Aachen in 2023.

Shannondale Archie – graduated from the 2018 sale and has since represented Australia at the Le Lion D’Anger World Young Horse Championships, as both a six and seven-year-old for Monart selector Bill Levett.  The Shannondale Sarco sired gelding finished fourth in his Advanced debut this season, going on to jump clear at Lignières CCI4*S most recently.

CBI Aldo – the 2018 sales topper went on to finish 8th at the six-year-old World Championships in 2021, and finished 4th at Blair Castle CCI3*L in 2022 with Kiwi Olympian Caroline Powell. He stepping up successfully to the CCI4* level this year, jumping double clear at Blenheim Palace CCI4*L.

With bidding for the 2023 sale now underway, Ireland’s leading elite horse auction is already attracting significant global interest. One of the many big names making the journey to the sale in person was Karen O’Connor, who said: “It’s unbelievable.  173 horses and the quality is off the charts! The beauty is, you can watch it online and bid from the States, and there’s literally thousands of people watching.  The thing is there’s so much transparency throughout the sale – you can talk to the owners, the breeders and get the back story on every horse.”

Bidding has closed for the first half of the lots in this year’s sale, and lots 87-173 will go under the hammer from 5PM GMT tonight, November 9th, via



Osberton International Awarded Former Rockingham Spring Fixture

Photo by Tim Wilkinson.

It was today announced that BEDE Events have been awarded an additional International fixture, due to run 3rd – 5th May.

The fixture, formally ran at Rockingham Castle, has been awarded, subject to FEI approval, to Osberton for a period of two years.

Of the appointment of the new date, BEDE Events Director Stuart Buntine commented: “We’re so excited to have the opportunity to host another international fixture at Osberton, giving those competing at short format 2 and 3* the opportunity to compete here. The addition of this fixture also gives us extra opportunity to invest in Osberton as a venue, which will be to the benefit of competitors in both the Spring and Autumn.”

BEDE Events have successfully run the Osberton International Horse Trials, which previously hosted the British Young Horse Championships, for many years, attracting thousands of local spectators. The Autumn fixture, also plays host to the Bennington Carriages Driving Trials, bringing together two equestrian disciplines in one iconic location.

A full schedule and plan for the event will be unveiled in due course, once FEI approval has been given.


Your Dream Horse Awaits: Record Numbers of Entries for Next Month’s Monart Sale

Ireland’s only elite horse sale, run by riders, for riders, once again looks to build on the success of the Covid-era hybrid virtual sale again this November. The auction dedicated to the sale of 3-year-old potential “elite” horses, run by 5* event riders Niall Griffin (IRE), Polly Jackson (GB) and Bill Levett (AUS), once again welcomes buyers from around the world to Monart Equestrian, and The Monart Spa, from 6th – 7th November, for two viewing days. The sale will then take place online during the 8th and 19th November.

In a new development for 2023, the sale will feature a wider selection of sport horses, giving the sale its “elite horse” tagline as opposed to the original “event horse” descriptor.

Sale Director Niall Griffin commented: “We’ve continuously been presented with horses with fantastic movement, great jump, and the only criticism we’ve found is they’re maybe lacking a bit of blood for the 5* level [in eventing], which would have been the only reason not to select them.

The sport is changing.  If you look at the Badminton horses, the type of horse has changed dramatically over the years, and so have the riders needs. They need to cross over more – giving them options for eventing and pure jumpers. So, we talked to vendors and decided that if these horses come forward it would be insane to turn them away.”

Karl Slezak and Monart graduate Hot Bobo. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

The Monart Sale saw record numbers of vendors enter horses for selection, requiring the organising team to add an additional selection day. The increased numbers of horses presented, the wider selection criteria and the high calibre of horses presented has resulted in a record number of horses being selected for auction. Over 170 of Ireland’s finest 3-year-old elite sport horses will be included in the auction.

One further new development for 2023 will see all x-rays being available to view on the horse’s sales profile. The step was taken to enable easier access to potential buyers and reduce the time taken to request x-rays for review.

Monart has attracted a plethora of notable buyers over the years including Olympic Champion Michael Jung (GER), Olympic Gold Medallists Oliver Townend (GBR), Laura Collett (GBR), Astier Nicholas (FRA), 5* Champion Caroline Powell (NZL), Karl and Katlyn Slezak (CAN) as well as UK based Irish senior team riders Austin O’Connor and Susie Berry.

The 2023 sales catalogue, with full sales videos, is now available to view via Prospective buyers are required to register in advance of the sale, whether they are intending to attend in person or online.

Lots 1 – 87 will perform their showcase on Monday 6th November, with the remainder scheduled for Tuesday 7th November. All showcases will be livestreamed via the sale’s website, with showcases added to horse profiles prior to the auction. Due to the volume of horses in the 2023 sale, auctions will be scheduled to close from 5pm on Wednesday 8th and Thursday 9th November. Each horse has a closing time three minutes apart and will require a five minute period free of bids in order for the auction to close.

The 2023 Monart Sale is once again presented by Sprenger Equestrian.

Britain’s Osberton International Introduces New Classes for 2023

Caroline Powell competing at Osberton International. Photo by Tim Wilkinson/Eventing Images.

Osberton International has been the end of season destination event for many riders over the past decades, but 2023 welcomes a new range of classes giving increased opportunity to riders. These are as follows:

A National 3DE

A new National level long format class running at Novice and Intermediate, giving competitors the opportunity to compete over a long format without the added requirements, and costs, of competing in an FEI class.

On the schedule as Restricted Intermediate and Restricted Novice, the tracks will have subtle differences from their CCI2*L and CCI3*L counter parts, with a less intense track and changes at some of the more challenging combinations.  To minimise the time required on-site, and spent away from home and work, the requirement for a first trot up has been removed.  A final horse inspection, ahead of show jumping, will be held in the interest of horse welfare.

Entry Requirement – Novice competitors are not to have started any FEI classes in the 2023 season, with MERs taken over the 2022 and 2023 seasons.  Intermediate competitors are not to have started a CCI3* or above in the 2023 season, with MERs taken over the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

Minimum Entry Requirements – Novice requires 2x Novice MERs, with Intermediate requiring 2x Intermediate MERs.

Onsite stabling is recommended, but not required, however you can enjoy all the fun in the evenings if you stay on site.

Project Pony CCIP2*-S

A new CCI2*-S restricted to Pony riders, giving our young riders a new end of season aim and allowing them to experience the atmosphere of a destination international fixture, with the winner receiving the hire of an Eco Voltz bike, PLUS an enhanced training packed with an elite level rider.

Osberton also welcomes the Project Pony All Stars competition, an exciting concept first seen at Belsay earlier this year, that encourages interaction and collaboration between the youth riders and senior riders.

Minimum Entry Requirements – 3x BE100/BE100 Plus/BE105 plus 1x Novice

Agria Lifetime Equine CCI1*-Intro

For the first time ever, BEDE Events welcomes CCI1* competitors to Osberton, offering entry level competitors of international sport the opportunity to experience the atmosphere and excitement of a destination FEI event.

Unlike other CCI1* classes being run this season, the Osberton CCI1* will run in a three-day format with Wednesday/Thursday Dressage, Friday cross-country, and culminating in show jumping in the main arena on Saturday.

A final horse inspection, ahead of show jumping, will be held in the interest of horse welfare.

The CCI1* also acts as the grand finale for the Agra Lifetime Equine BE100 League.

Minimum Entry Requirements – 3x BE100/BE100 Plus/BE105

Investec CCI3*L & Arena Saddles CCI2*L

A firm fixture on the Osberton schedule and an end of season aim for many. This year’s event will see a new loop added to the cross-country course, giving more galloping sections.  The new route through the woods also features a cracking new bank complex for riders to tackle.

Both the CCI3*L and CCI2*L act as finales for their respective Investec Intermediate and Arena Saddles Novice Leagues, that have been running across all BEDE Events in 2023.

Entries are now OPEN for all classes with late entry surcharges applied from 30th August, and final date for entries of 1stSeptember.  All entries will be accepted on a first-come-first-served basis.  Enter early to guarantee your space.

Full schedule and entry details via British Eventing.

Wesko Equestrian Foundation – Expansion Confirmed For 2023

The Wesko Equestrian Foundation, a non-profit organisation founded in memory of Christina Knudsen, has today announced its further expansion via the Young Eventers Pathway which aims to support sixty young riders, between the ages of 21-28 years, with training, education, and support.

The Foundation aims to support young Eventers from every background, to become better
and more viable athletes, with a vision to create an eventing community and peer learning
environment that surrounds these riders, who are participating in the programme, expanding
its support from grassroots all the way to 5* riders.

Applications for the 2023 intake of riders to the Young Eventers Pathway are now open (19th December 2022) and will close on 1st January 2023.

The new Young Eventers Pathway will operate at 3 different levels encompassing the
grassroots of the sport (BE80, BE90 and BE100), a combined CCI2* and CCI3* pathway,
and a combined CCI4* and CCI5* pathway. Each Pathway will welcome up to 20 supported
riders, with a minimum of 2 riders at each level receiving full funding for both the ridden
training and education programme.

Each pathway level will feature a tailored training programme, with all ridden training taking place at Aston-Le-Walls. Riders will benefit from expert training, advice and mentorship from British Olympian and Rolex Grand Slam Winner, Pippa Funnell MBE, European Champion, Nicola Wilson, World Class Performance Manager, Richard Waygood MBE, 5* dressage judge Nikki Herbert and British Equestrian Assistant Performance Manager, Philip Surl. The Pathway riders will have shared access to a 12-month education programme, that will offer
riders support in a variety of areas, from business to media training, fitness and nutrition, and equine welfare.

Photo by Equus Photopgraphy.

European Champion, Nicola Wilson is welcomed as a new addition to the Foundation’s
coaching roster. Of the new appointment Nicola commented: “I am delighted to be supporting the new programme that the Wesko Equestrian Foundation are launching, and I very much look forward to getting started with many exciting up and coming riders and their horses. It is a fabulous foundation allowing riders to draw on a wealth of knowledge and experience in a lovely environment.”

With the Foundation named after his CCI5* winning mount, Wesko, FEI World Number 1,
Tim Price continues as Foundation Ambassador and said of the expansion: “The help the foundation gives to young riders is invaluable, to have that support system in
place to be able to help and guide you is second to none. The change to Pathway training
days will see more riders across all levels have access to this support and programme and
I’m very excited to see the progress the riders will make.”

The goal at the heart of the Foundation continues to be, bringing increased education and
training to talented young event riders to support their futures, with the welfare of the horse and rider at the heart of the programme. The Wesko Equestrian Foundation has played a key role in supporting the careers of several young riders over the past 3-years, including new FEI World Champion Yasmin Ingham (GBR) and Susie Berry (IRE) who made her senior championship debut at the 2022 World Championships in Pratoni.

Said Yasmin Ingham of the Wesko Equestrian Foundation: “It was a privilege to be a part of the Wesko Equestrian Foundation, even though I have graduated from the foundation I still stay in contact and asking Pip for her valuable advice! I believe what I learnt when on the programme I use in my everyday life running an equestrian business. I am very grateful to all at the Wesko Equestrian Foundation.”

The first of the new Young Eventers Pathway training days is scheduled for the 13th – 16th
February, at Aston-Le-Walls.

The Wesko Equestrian Foundation is a non-profit organisation founded in memory of
Christina Knudsen and her passion for the sport of Eventing. The aim of the foundation is to bring education and training to talented young event riders to support their futures, with the welfare of the horse and rider at the heart of the programme. 

The Foundation’s riders receive mentoring and in-depth training from one of the world’s most decorated eventing riders, Pippa Funnell, along with former Team GBR World Class
Performance Manager, Yogi Breisner. The programme also includes a 360-degree
education programme in partnership with A Young Riders Academy.

Learn more about the Wesko Equestrian Foundation by reading about the Young Eventers Pathway Program here, training session takeaways here, and take a look at their Instagram account for updates.

10 Questions with Imogen Murray, Age 24, on the Road to Badminton 2.0

Image courtesy of Tim Wilkinson.

Imogen Murray, age 24, from Leicestershire, returns to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials a year on from being crowned the Highest Placed Under 25 Rider. Riding Ivan Gooden, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Young Convinced x Ballybrohan Diamond, by Coevers Diamond Boy), Imogen will be aiming to make it three-for-three double clears at CCI4* level.

One of only two combinations to jump a double clear at both Badminton and Burghley in 2017, Imogen and “Charles” were riding high last season. With abandonments aplenty at the start of the 2018 season they are not letting the weather put a dampener on their preparations with a personal best in the dressage at Burnham Market CIC3*.

“We had an incredible season last year,” Imogen says. “A double clear at Badminton was a bit of a dream come true, but replicating it at Burghley was just incredible. Charles is feeling very well and is in great form, despite the limited preparations, so we are all very excited for our first four-star of the year. We’ve worked hard on his dressage over the winter, which was seen in his personal best at Burnham and he’s in winning show jumping form, following a win in the B/C Handicap at Arena UK last week.”

Imogen Murray and Ivar Gooden. Image courtesy of Tim Wilkinson.

Get to know the leading under 25 four-star rider:

1. When did your first start riding and who was your first pony/horse?

“I first started riding when I was 4 at the local riding school, Witham Villa. I learnt on a pony called Topper, a British Miniature Spotted and also a very typical cheeky chap. My first pony I had at home was Misty, 10.2-hand Shetland Cross breed who was sold from the riding school as he made too many appearances in the accident book for naughty behavior — he possibly set the tone for the future and me being drawn to horses with a bit of something about them.”

2. When did you first decide to become a professional event rider?

“On the day I received my GCSE results — which were an almost full string of As. I was in the school playground and thought this really isn’t what I want to do. I did have to persuade my parents though, but I think they were fully aware – I was never going to go to university!”

3. Who has been your biggest supporter to date?

“My family. Mum really is the backbone of the yard, she runs the show! She is also chief plaiter and polisher … and has to ensure my stock is tied properly! Dad is chief funding provider. He tries to come to as many events as possible and is often seen pacing around the warm up arenas. I’ve also got a great string of owners, many of whom have been with me for a long time. They come and watch even when their own horses aren’t competing.”

4. What is your ultimate goal?

“It’s a very demanding sport, physically, mentally and financially. So, to be able to survive long enough in the sport at the top level to then be able to look back and have memories of great horses competing at some great venues.”

5. Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“There’s been many over the years but the one that always sticks comes from Steven James, who trained me for many years — just as I was entering a dressage arena I would hear him say ‘bum in, boobs out, it’s show time!’ I never failed to enter down that centre line with a smile.”

6. How do you like to relax? 

“Sleep … I do love a good nap, or a good film.”

7. Favourite song?

“‘Build Me Up Buttercup,’ or anything from Disney.”

8. What piece of advice would you now give yourself 10 years ago?

“Don’t rush to get there, I’ve been incredibly lucky with some of the horses I’ve been able to ride. When you’re younger, you’re always racing to make that next step up, as you get older you realise without proper foundations it will soon come tumbling down.”

9. What do you do to stay fit, other than riding?

“Pilates. I have regular pilates sessions to help my core stability which is really important. In the summer I will also cycle and run when I have the time but more because I enjoy it than to stay fit.”

10. What advice would you give someone just starting their eventing career?

 “Learn from the best, and watch the best. And you can never work hard enough.”


Five Questions with Badminton Rookie Alexander Whewall

Alexander Whewall and Chakiris Star. Photo by Lucy Hall.

Alexander Whewall, 31, from Easton-in- Gordano in North Somerset, is set to make his debut appearance at the world famous Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in May. Riding Lisa Coward’s 11-year-old bay gelding, Chakiris Star, the local rider has his sights set on a strong Badminton completion following a top-20 finish at Les Etoiles de Pau in October 2017, their first CCI4* competition.

“I’m really excited to get to Badminton, and just hope we will both be on form!” Alex says.

The former British Eventing Intermediate Champion and 2016 Bridging The Gap Scholar has his final preparations underway. Despite numerous cancellations and abandonments Chakiris Star was entered in the Advanced class at Burnham Market International which ran prior to the event having to be abandoned.

He reports, “Chakiris Star went really well at Burnham Market and made the tough cross country feel very easy! This was a really good confidence giving run for him and even better to finish in the top 10.”

Alexander Whewall and Chakiris Star. Photo by Lucy Hall.

In the spirit of getting to know Alex, we asked him five quick-fire questions:

1. What made you want to event and become a professional rider?

“I loved jumping and the idea of jumping and going fast around the cross country thrilled me. I did my first event when I was 16. I was still at school and I knew I didn’t want to do anything else but work/ride with horses! I started working at a local event yard and never looked back.”

2. What’s been your biggest challenge faced during your career so far?

“I’ve never had a ready-made horse. I’ve always had to make and produce the horses I ride. However, I think this has worked for the better I the long run as it has made me understand and work with different horses.”

3. What advice would you give someone starting their eventing career?

“There are lots of highs and lows, you will work long hours, but it’s worth it when your horses go out and go well! The more you put in the more you get out.”

4. What do you do for fun?

“I go for dinner with friends and occasional wild nights on the tiles!”

5. Hot or cold holidays?

“I like both. My brother and sister live in Sydney, Australia, so I like to visit them but I also love to go skiing in the French Alps”