Saturday 25th of May 2019
Features

Alicia Hawker: Local rider wins U25 prize at Badminton Horse Trials

24 year old Alicia Hawker has had a meteoric rise to the dizzy heights of 5* competition. Having won the Mark Todd Bridging the Gap scholarship in 2017, her rise to the pinnacle of the sport has been the stuff dreams are made of.

We caught up with Alicia following her second Badminton completion on the rather opinionated 12 year old gelding Charles RR, or Charlie to his friends.

How long have you and Charlie been together?

Seven years ago we were looking for our next project to go up the levels never with an inkling that one day we would get to Badminton. We had tried a few horses but I saw him advertised on the internet and went to see him. My Grandad bought him as a 5 year old and he hadn’t done anything! We always knew he was talented but he was also very opinionated!

What were the early days together like?

We couldn’t get him near water, let alone in it, for about 6 months! At the end of his 5 year old year we managed a few BE90s and 100s and then gave him some time off to come back and start the next step up.

Tell us about your team.

We had loads of help last year having won the Mark Todd Bridging the Gap scholarship and Mark has been great helping with his flying changes. Lately Mark has been rather busy but Dickie Waygood has been helping me on the flat and I am very lucky to still have Rhian Jones as an integral part of the team. Rhian has been my showjumping coach from when I was 7 doing Pony Club through all the levels plus I have a very supportive family, especially my Grandad. I also have some amazing sponsors in Sue Carson Saddles, Keyflow Feeds, FMBs Therapy Systems, Gatehouse and the Mark Todd Collection.

What was it like returning to Badminton with Charlie?

Last year was incredible – you always dream of competing at Badminton and it certainly lived up to expectations. Having grown up only 15 minutes away, I have been to every Badminton since I was tiny, enjoyed the partying in my teens and am now competing there. Coming back this year wasn’t really the plan as he picked up a minor injury after Badminton last year and we were really thinking of Burghley and Pau, but when he came back into work in December we did a lot of work on his flatwork and had some good early runs including a double clear at the Burnham 4* so thought why not.

He’s a big strong horse who loves his jumping. I trust him completely and he’s so clever, always looking for the flags and wanting to go faster than I want him to so I knew he was ready to go again.

How was the build up?

When you get to Badminton you just want to get going and there is a bit of hanging around until the trot up. I don’t actually find it that nerve wracking but you have to enjoy it. We had dressage on the Friday so another day to wait around but I had a fab entourage with lots of friends, sponsors and family that kept me busy and relaxed.

Tell us about each phase.

Charlie isn’t the biggest fan of dressage but he is more accepting of it now. He finds flying changes hard but he stayed the most relaxed he’s ever been and his score was OK until the changes!

Friday night is a mixture of nerves and excitement and I knew he was more than capable of jumping everything and I didn’t think there was a particular bogey fence.

When we set off XC he was quite strong for the first few fences but then settled really well. He likes the harder combinations and is very quick footed and really enjoyed it – as did I! We had a really great run with no sticky moments and he has a great cruising speed so we went round in a really lovely rhythm. I didn’t let the handbrake off, which maybe I could have done a bit but I wanted to make sure there was enough left in the tank and when we crossed the finishing line, he felt so good and recovered really quickly and I think we climbed about 50 places after XC.

Sunday is always a bit nerve wracking but I know he is a really good jumper and he felt so amazing in the warm up that it was a bit disappointing to have a couple of fences down. We’ve been trying a new bit lately and it worked really well at Burnham but we may have to go back to the drawing board on that. We finished 30th and won the U25 prize, which was a beautiful saddle from the Worshipful Company of Saddlers and I am so proud of him.

 

Where next?

It’s always a bit of a come down for a few days after such a major event but we are busy with all the young horses. We’ve got 4 at Aston on Friday, 2 at Solihull on Saturday and 5 at Howick on Sunday. For Charlie, we are really hoping Burghley will be our next port of all together.

We look forward to following the rest of Alicia’s season and wish her and all the team huge congratulations on their brilliant Badminton.

www.aliciahawker.com

All photos ©️ William Carey Photography / The Gaitpost

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