Too Smart just clever enough

Genevieve Murphy believes that Get Smart's successor can help Karen Dixon to her best finish at the Badminton Three-Day Event which starts tomorrow

Karen Dixon says that she would like to finish in the top 10 (for the sixth time) when she rides Too Smart at the Badminton Three-Day Event, which begins tomorrow in Avon.

It seems a modest aspiration for the second (and more talented) of Dixon's two Badminton partners. But it is a racing certainty that the 30-year- old rider's thoughts have sometimes strayed towards having the Mitsubishi Trophy on her sideboard and the record first prize of £22,250 in her pocket.

Too Smart is a wonderfully nimble nine-year-old gelding who gained many admirers when he won the Punchestown Three-Day Event in Ireland and the British Championship at Gatcombe last year, and went on to finish third at Burghley.

The little horse looks the obvious successor to Dixon's 15-year-old warrior, Get Smart, with whom she won team gold and individual bronze medals at last year's World Equestrian Games. The older horse remains at home in Co Durham this week, though he remains a lively contender for the British team at September's European Open Championships in Italy.

In his place, Dixon is riding two newcomers at Badminton. The first, Hot Property, a 10-year-old gelding, will do his dressage test tomorrow morning - almost certainly with some reluctance. The grey horse finds this phase a bore; as soon as he catches sight of the dressage arena Dixon can almost hear him sigh. It makes her spirits flag a little, too, because she knows that she will have to work extra hard as a result. The sight of a cross-country fence has completely the opposite effect, however, and Hot Property will be raring to have a go at Hugh Thomas's 30 demanding obstacles on Saturday.

Too Smart is equally thrilled by the cross-country, but then he finds pretty well everything exciting - including the dressage that he will be performing on Friday afternoon. "The great thing about him is that he always tries to please," Dixon said. "Even when he's trotting on air with excitement, I know he wants to do the right thing. It makes a change from Get Smart, who more or less tells me to get stuffed when he's feeling like that."

In fact, Dixon's biggest problem may come just before the cross-country on Saturday when her husband, Andrew, tries to tighten Too Smart's girths. This is the one moment that the horse loathes. "It's a desperate struggle to try to do up his girths without any of us getting eaten," Dixon said.

She is longing to ride Too Smart over the cross-country course. "He's very bold, but he's also a sharp little fellow who gets his feet out of the way quickly," she said. Having cruised round the big course at Burghley last year, Too Smart should be ready for this challenge and he could well be among the leaders as they go into the final show jumping phase on Sunday.

The quick-footed bay horse is normally careful in the show jumping, but he has been known to have the odd fence down. To prepare Too Smart for this phase, Dixon stopped off in Yorkshire on her way to Badminton yesterday so that she could have a lesson with the show-jumping rider and trainer, Graham Fletcher.

Though she has a splendidly consistent record at Badminton, having ridden Get Smart to clear cross-country rounds in all his six runs there, Dixon has yet to finish higher than fifth in the annual classic. That was with Get Smart in 1988, the year that she was selected for the Olympics and first rode for a senior British team.

Dixon is not tempting fate by suggesting that she might do better this time. When asked who was the likely recipient of the Mitsubishi Trophy, she had no need to pause for thought. "Todd," she said, promptly and succinctly. Mark Todd and his two horses, Just an Ace or Bertie Blunt, have both been in tremendous form this spring. The prediction does not mean that she or her three team-mates from the World Games - Mary Thomson, Charlotte Bathe and Kristina Gifford - intend to let the New Zealander get away from them lightly. "Mary must stand a good chance with King William, I hope we all go well," Dixon said.

If she goes well on Too Smart it will be further proof that her mother, Elaine Straker, has a wonderful eye for a horse. She spotted him when he was a two-year-old, grazing in a field among a group of 10 horses, and she knew that she had to buy him. Then a rotund two-year-old, Too Smart has been known by the stable name of Barrel ever since. Though he lacks the experience of Get Smart, the little Barrel could prove to be even more talented than his stable companion - and you can't get much smarter than that.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pillar 1, 2 & 3) Insurance

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pilla...

Manager - SAS - Data Warehouse - Banking

£350 - £365 per day: Orgtel: Manager, SAS, Data Warehouse, Banking, Bristol - ...

SQL DBA/Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer
 SQL, C#, VBA, Linux, SQL Se...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn