HAPPY TIMES - The Horse's Story
Sam acquired Happy Times as a very 'green' 6 year old and has brought him up through the ranks over the last few years. Despite having the appearance and gallop of a thoroughbred, Happy is actually half Oldenburg and is by the now well known sire, Heraldik. It is his warmblood lines that give him such quality paces and an extremely athletic and powerful jump.
Happy first showed his real promise at the 2006 World Young Horse Championships at Le Lion D'Angers in France, where he was placed 4th in a high class field of the world's best 7 year olds. The following year, Sam upgraded Happy to Advanced level at just 8 years old (very young for this high level) and they contested the Blenheim International CCI*** at the end of the year, they were lying 2nd after the dressage but they had a disappointing run out, which dashed their chances. The following year, however, was their time to make up for the Blenheim disappointment and they took the French eventing scene by storm once again and put in a fantastic performance to win the prestigious Saumur CCI***. Huge celebrations were had and Happy Times was plunged into the limelight, particularly as he was still so young to be at that level, let alone winning it!
Following this success, Sam and Happy's owners, Juliet Donald and Dinah Posford, all decided that Happy's next three day should be a CCI**** so Badminton was 'pencilled in' for 2009 but Happy, once again, showed such promise at the first few runs of the 2009 season that Badminton was definitely the plan and they went into the event very confident after an excellent 2nd placing at a pre-Badminton Advanced One Day Event at Powderham Castle.
Dressage day at Badminton dawned, and Happy warmed up for his test beautifully but just made one or two little mistakes in his test to leave them, uncharacteristically, off the pace in the dressage phase, but Sam remained philosophical as it was Happy's first dressage test at that level and afterall, Badminton is never a dressage competition. Sure enough, following a fantastic cross country round, Sam and Happy shot into the top ten on the leaderboard. But yet more excitement was to come as it became obvious on show jumping day that there were very few clear rounds being jumped.
Sam, however, was confident in Happy's ability to jump a clear round and having warmed up well they went into the arena and did just that - a foot perfect clear round! Then all that could be done was to watch excitedly as they began to creep further and further up the leaderboard as more and more competitors rolled poles. It was all incredibly exciting as before we knew it Sam and Happy had risen to 3rd place! Everyone was just thrilled and Sam was particularly pleased for the owners of Happy as they have been with him right from his days as a working pupil with Matt Ryan and have been the most incredible support to him.
We all knew that Sam and Happy could give the leaders a shake up but with Happy still being very young for this level and having not contested a CCI**** before, it was just outstanding to have put in such a solid performance.
Sam is now hoping that he has once again caught the eye of the selectors and is now firmly aiming Happy for selection for the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky next year. Very exciting times....
Photo courtesy of www.alcrook.co.uk