Fiona fights back from family tragedy to lay down the law as an equestrian Force

Fiona Horsepool and Storm Force
Fiona Horsepool and Storm Force
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SHEFFIELD’S Fiona Horsepool had a lot to deal with as she entered her twenties.

The law student was rocked by losing her mother Janet to cancer right in the midst of her university studies.

Everything, be it her law aspirations or her undeniable passion for horses, was suddenly put on hold.

Yet through courage and determination, the Yorkshire ace has gone on to thrive with both.

Three years on, an honours in law is in safe keeping and Horsepool now calling the shots in various equestrian spheres.

Horsepool, 25, enjoyed a stellar 2013 with heavyweight working hunter Storm Force, whose year high came when winning the Amateur Working Hunter Championship at The National Supreme Hunter Show at Bury Farm in September.

Next month will see Horsepool take her class act known as Percy to the winter regionals in dressage where Storm Force will be joined by Horsepool’s latest exciting recruit in QEG Lux.

He had primarily show-jumped in his previous home but is now chasing glory in a dressage sphere.

Be it dressage, show-jumping, working hunters or even side-saddle, it is all the same to Horsepool as her equestrian adventures go from strength to strength.

It was two years back that Horsepool was victorious on Aquamoor in the Working Hunter Championship at the Emley Moor Show with the duo also placed in the ladies’ side-saddle class at the Great Yorkshire in the same year.

Aquamoor is owned by Horsepool’s partner’s parents Ray and Hilary, who went on to purchase Storm Force for her.

Ever since dedicating time back to her passion for all things equine, Horsepool has proved a force to be reckoned with.

“I’ve had horses and ponies for as long as I can remember but I was prepared to sacrifice them, at least for the time being, in order to pursue a career as a lawyer,” said Horsepool, who studied law at university in Leeds.

“However, just weeks before my final year examinations my mother was diagnosed with cancer and tragically died in April after a very short illness.

“Knowing I was so close to completing my degree, I took very little time off my studies and went straight back to my exams where I graduated with honours.

“I then decided to take a bit of time out and I moved back to Sheffield and happily busied myself with the horses. I guess I’ve not looked back since.”

The first project for Horsepool was Fortruane Rebok – an unbroken three-year-old Connemara whom she produced – as well as Nethertowns Jethro Tull who she evented at the time.

But then the former Leeds student relocated to a private yard in Holmfirth close to where her partner Thomas Janion’s horse box manufacturing company ‘Equi-trek’ is based.

A dabble in property development followed and the equine activities also went from strength to strength.

Horsepool first purchased a four-year-old thoroughbred Irish Draught called Ottoman Rebel, stabled with Janion’s experienced parents.

They helped Tom to glory at both the Horse of the Year Show and the Royal International Horse Show on his horse ‘Peeping Tom’.

Under Horsepool, Ottoman Rebel was placed at every event in 2013, including coming first at the Breckenborough Horse Trials.

The Badminton Grassroots Championship finals is his long-term aim.

Enormous success with Storm Force has also been savoured – the 10-year-old scoring over 70 per cent at the Dressage Regional Finals and just missing out on a ticket by coming second in the Horse of the Year show qualifier at Ashbourne show.

Victory at the Amateur Working Hunter Championship at the National Supreme Hunter Show at Bury Farm followed and, no doubt, more working hunter successes await in 2014.

For now, though, next month’s regional dressage championships await with both Storm Force and QEG Lux.

Horsepool added: “QEG Lux has an almost unbeaten affiliated dressage record to date and recently scored a personal best of 79.89 per cent at Beaver Hall.

“I am so excited with how is has progressed so quickly and, hopefully, he has the ability to take me all the way up the levels. I am so delighted to be taking both horses to the Winter Regionals.

“They are a fantastic pair of horses to be working with and there’s still so much yet to come.”

She says her achievements would not have been possible without the help of her nearest and dearest.

“I was incredibly fortunate to have the support of my wonderful dad Richard, family and friends, who encouraged me to follow my heart and really pursue my dreams as far as I could with the horses.

“I also owe a lot to my incredible mentors Ray and Hilary Janion for enthusiastically believing in me and my incredibly supportive partner Tom, who is my rock without whom I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today.

“Whilst I hope to go back to law one day, for the time being I am thriving on the successes I have had with my horses over the last two years.”

Bannister takes over the reins in fine style on Classinaglass

CLASSINAGLASS will be aimed at the Cheltenham Foxhunters in March after getting 2014 off to a winning start at Sheriff Hutton.

Running in the Browns Department Stores Men’s Open, Classinaglass was ridden by Harry Bannister, who has taken over the reins from the retired Tom Greenall.

It was also the horse’s first outing for new trainer Stephanie Easterby – in the new ownership of the Coniston Hotel Racing Club, a club organised in memory of the late Tom Bannister, who previously owned this seven-time winner.

Held up early, Classinaglass eventually enjoyed a three-length victory ahead of Special Portrait under Ed Glassonbury.

The victory provided the second leg of a treble for Bannister and Easterby, initiated by Port Golan, who surged clear of Amicelli in the second division of the Chris Hoggard Memorial Yorkshire Area Point-to-Point Club Members’ Riders Conditions Race.

The duo’s final success came in the Cundalls four, five six and seven-year-olds Open Maiden, run over the shorter distance of 2m 4f with Banny’s Lad.

Two victorious horses shared the fastest time of the day with the ex-Ferdy Murphy trained Ockey De Neulliac landing the Ladies’ Open in convincing style under Catherine Walton.

The fastest time accolade was shared with Foreverpresenting and promising novice jockey Jack Teal, who bagged the card’s opener – division one of the Chris Hoggard Memorial Yorkshire Area Point-to-Point Club Members’ Race.

Other highlights from the season opener included Division One of the Open Maiden Race which went the way of the useful-looking Irish recruit Red Tortue.

Falling on his only start over hurdles at Market Rasen in the summer, Red Tortue was ridden with confidence and put into the race when it mattered to win by a length.

The efforts of his pilot, Will Milburn, were rewarded with ride of the day.

The second division provided area champion jockey Richard Smith with his 50th win aboard his own Mistissio.

The closest finish came in the Coniston Hotel Restricted race where the Derek Smith ridden Onetwobeat won by a neck from Drivehomeregardles.

The next local meeting is on Saturday at Howe Hills – the South Durham Hunt Farmers’ Club meeting.