Becky Woolven, 27 and from Tetbury, has completed her first ever Four Star event in 17th place, making her the best British first-timer this year. She climbed from 33rd place after dressage to 22nd going in to the show jumping.
“I came here just wanting to jump clear across country – but to be best British first-timer sounds really good,” said an overwhelmed Becky.
Becky bought Charlton Down Riverdance, otherwise known as ‘Socks’ due to his leg markings, as a four-year-old. “To be honest he didn’t show huge promise to start with, but he was always a real trier with a huge heart. For the first few years we didn’t do anything exciting; his cross country jumping was always good but the dressage and show jumping has taken a lot of work.
“Fortunately someone told me that due to his size (Socks is 17.1hh) it would probably take until he was around nine to work out where to put his feet. They were right, and he’s really grown into himself (he’s now 10) – for a big horse he’s very quick thinking now and we help each other out.”
Becky already sports a Union Jack on her jacket having made her first international appearance in 2010 in the Student Riders Nations Cup, where she claimed individual and team gold medals, also winning individual gold and team silver at the World University Equestrian Games in South Korea.
“Burghley has totally lived up to my expectations. The atmosphere in the stables is fabulous, and to ride around the park here is extraordinary. Yesterday (cross country day) was so emotional. I knew he was awesome across country, but I hadn’t anticipated how hard it would be riding a tired horse over those fences towards the end of the course.
“Socks has quite a big following and we had lots of family and friends cheering us on, which was amazing.
“He’ll obviously have a well-deserved holiday now, and then we’ll aim for Badminton. I live so close to Badminton House I could probably hack there!”