Chloe goes from bride to bridle at Badminton

Malton three-day eventer Chloe Fairley with her horse The Happy Prince at her stables in Malton.
Malton three-day eventer Chloe Fairley with her horse The Happy Prince at her stables in Malton.
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Malton’s Chloe Fairley will go from bride to bridle as part of an extraordinary week at this year’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials – the destination for her honeymoon at the expense of Barbados.

Not that a hectic schedule will worry the barrister whose daily commutes to Warrington start at 5am and end some 14-and-a-half hours later.

Fairley, 37, is one of 13 Yorkshire riders to have qualified for this year’s Mitsubushi Motors Cup, formerly the Grassroots Championships, at the 2016 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

The rider will partner The Happy Prince in the competition’s BE90 section – two days before the likes of Huddersfield’s world No 15 Oliver Townend strut their stuff in the event’s flagship CCI four-star.

Townend famously took on best man duties just hours before the 2013 Bramham Horse Trials, but Fairley and long-term partner Richard are taking things one stage further by getting married on the Saturday before Badminton where they will honeymoon the following week.

The rider’s incredible journey began last August when Richard proposed in Florence, after 14 years as a couple.

Upon her return, Fairley and The Happy Prince, whose stable name is Rio, booked a ticket to Badminton’s Mitsbushi Motors Cup at the Prestwold Horse Trials.

It meant August 2015 was some month, but it won’t be a patch on the first week in May.

“A lot of people have said Richard must be a very understanding man to agree to a honeymoon in Badminton rather than Barbados!” said Fairley. “But we have been together for 14 years so Richard has very much been a part of the Badminton dream – he has been there for the highs and lows, as have the rest of my family.

“We are having the reception at home and will be setting off for Badminton 36 hours later – we are planning on it being an extension of the wedding festivities. All my family and quite a few friends are coming to watch so we will hopefully keep the celebrations going!

“The Mitsubishi Motors Cup is an amazing competition for true amateur riders like myself to aim for, it makes those 5am starts worthwhile, even just the thought of galloping in front of Badminton House and through the lake gets the adrenaline flowing. I cannot wait.”

Qualification is the latest in a string of notable success for Fairley, who won the 2014 Macmillan Charity race at York Racecourse on Checkpoint, trained by Malton handler Tony Coyle, who Fairley rides out for. The Malton rider now looks after Checkpoint who will be aimed at eventing and racehorse to riding horse classes later this year.

Yet, just a few months after the huge highs of her success on the Knavesmire, Fairley had genuine fears she might never regain the full use of her elbow.

“We had a bad fall in October 2014 at Bishop Burton in the water jump and I dislocated and fractured my elbow, so that is now plated and pinned,” she revealed.

“The surgeon at Hull Royal Infirmary said I would not ride again for six months and would probably never regain the full use of my elbow.

“I had a winch-type contraption that I had to sleep in and I used to straighten my arm a tiny bit each day. I worked hard at rehab on my arm and I was delighted when I got the all clear to ride again in January 2015.”

Just over one year later, the rider is heading to Badminton, and if names mean anything her mount is destined to hit the back of the net.

Fairley explained: “Rio is by the local stallion Buskhill Gunnar, out of my sister’s event mare. He was born early in the afternoon in the field at the back of our house during the England v Denmark game of the World Cup in Japan in 2002. Rio Ferdinand had just scored, hence his name.”