Thursday, August 30, 2007 14:04 GMT
Tomorrow afternoon The Ground Jury will have to be forgiven for believing they have a case of deja vu. Having already judged Louise Skelton and her homebred gelding Bit Of A Barney (no.2) this morning, tomorrow it is the turn of Louise and her second ride Partly Pickled – a full-brother and doppleganger for Barney.
The two geldings, both plain bays with no white markings, are a year apart with 12-year-old Barney the eldest. Both were bred by Louise and her mother and are out of Gerfuffle, a former point-to-pointer and family-favourite. “I loved her so much I used to lead her round the paddock at point-to-points when I was just ten and tiny but she was so well behaved,” said Louise. “When I was 14 I decided to take her on as my event mare.” Gerfuffle who is by the Thoroughbred Rhodamantade gave Louise her first taste of eventing success as the pair went on to contest Junior Championships. When Louise was 18 Gerfuffle was put in foal to the Thoroughbred stallion Blaze O’ Gold. On arrival however Barney did not quite have the look of a potential four-star event horse. “He had a really wonky leg and had to have an operation and spent the first three months of his life in a stable – the vet thought he would be OK as a hack. He might have been an ugly duckling but in my eyes at least he has grown into a beautiful swan,” said Louise, who is based in Herefordshire.
While the two geldings might be the spitting image of each other in temperament they differ. “Barney is the dominant one as I think Pickle has had to live in his shadow for so long. Pickle however is more naturally talented and showy but what Barney lacks in talent he makes up for by trying and tries much harder than Pickle.”
The boys also have a half sister by the Irish Draught stallion Roma Diamond Skip who is competing at intermediate level and are uncles to her son who has just completed his first novice event.
Last year Barney completed Burghley and in May Pickle completed Badminton. “My aim this weekend is to complete Burghley with both of them,” said Louise.
Just getting one homebred horse to a four-star event is itself quite a feat. To get two brothers to the same event in the same year is a real achievement while to complete with them both would be success of super league proportions.