British event rider Bubby Upton is “pinching herself” at the news she has added three new advanced horses to her string.
The 22-year-old has the ride on Chedington Equestrian’s 2019 Blenheim young horse champion Clever Louis, 12, and the 11-year-old four-star campaigner Jefferson 18, who were both previously campaigned by Chris Burton for Australia.
She has also taken over the reins of experienced campaigner Billy Liffy, owned by Viscount and Viscountess Rothermere. The 15-year-old gelding, by Billy Congo, has top 10 results at four-star and competed to CCI5* with Britain’s Olivia Craddock and Australia’s Sam Griffiths.
“It’s a pinch myself moment, to be honest!” Bubby told H&H. “I feel so, so lucky to have been trusted by their owners and to have been given these opportunities.”
She added that to be given rides on horses of this calibre is “what we all dream of”.
Bubby is the reigning under-25 national champion and a multiple youth gold medal-winner. She was long-listed on two horses for the senior Europeans last year, but her season came to an abrupt halt owing to illness and injury. Bubby contracted Covid in July, and was cross-country schooling at home after recovering from the virus when she broke her back and collarbone in a freak fall. Two months later, she won the CCI4*-S at Little Downham and then made her five-star debut with two horses at Pau, finishing 12th on Cola.
The trio have joined Bubby at her Newmarket base and have “settled in really well”.
“We love having new faces in the yard and they have become part of the family straight away,” she said.
Their event plans are “mostly in italics”, as it is still early days for her partnership with each horse. Four-stars are the main focus at present, short or long depending on how each is going, with Pau a pencilled possibility at the end of the year.
Bubby said Chris has been helping her with his former rides, and she feels “really fortunate” to have his support along with that of owners Dr Geoffrey and Kate Guy, of Chedington Equestrian.
“Clever Louis is obviously an amazing horse and he has achieved so much with Chris,” she said. “He is a very blood type, which I haven’t really experienced before, and he is teaching me so much.
“Jefferson is another incredible horse and the complete polar opposite of Clever Louis. They couldn’t be more different – I love riding different types – and he is a proper power horse, a proper warmblood jumper. It’s so exciting having horses like these in my string.
“Billy Liffy is the ultimate schoolmaster. He is beautiful to sit on and makes my job very easy. I’m really excited to see what we can do together.”
The addition of these three rides means Bubby has a string of nine horses to contest this season, alongside completing her final year at Edinburgh University, where she is studying sports management.
Her Badminton debut is the first major target of the year, aboard Cola, with more five-stars on her provisional calendar through the 2022 season.
“It’s an amazing string – a big string, bearing in mind that I’ve got a term left at uni,” she said, adding that the balance is tough, but she “likes to challenge myself”.
“I just can’t wait to graduate and to give [eventing] my all, and see what I can achieve when riding is my sole focus,” she said.
“My dissertation is due the week before Badminton, nothing like piling on the pressure! I’m trying to get really ahead with that and to use [my degree and time management] as an advantage, as it will prepare me for my career.”
You might also be interested in:
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.