Caroline Pratt

Respected international three-day event rider

Even as a small child, the international three-day event rider Caroline Pratt knew that she would eventually want to work with horses.



Caroline Pratt, three-day event rider: born Lound, Nottinghamshire 23 June 1962; died Peterborough, Cambridgeshire 4 September 2004.



Even as a small child, the international three-day event rider Caroline Pratt knew that she would eventually want to work with horses.

The conviction grew when, at the age of seven, she persuaded her non-horsy parents to buy her a pony. She was not, however, allowed to neglect her education while she pursued her goal. Her two brothers and her sister were high-fliers at school and she struggled in vain to keep up with them. Her father, Derek Pratt, who was an architect, insisted that she took A-levels at college before she was allowed to begin work as a girl groom at Rodger Wright's dealing yard near Retford in Nottinghamshire.

Fortunately, Caroline Pratt was never one to balk at hard work or long hours. Like her mother, Angela, who grew fruit and vegetables for the family and later took B&B guests at her home in the Lake District, she was practical and unassuming.

She rode a variety of horses at Wright's yard (including "the good, the bad and the ugly") and was delighted when she was eventually allowed to compete. There was, however, one major drawback in working for a dealer: every horse in the yard was for sale and the best of them were inevitably snapped up.

After 15 years with Wright, Pratt jumped at the opportunity of working for Dick and Frances Kinsey at their Tetton Hall home near Middlewich in Cheshire, later describing herself as "the luckiest person on earth". The Kinseys, who were "wonderful owners and great supporters", had no intention of selling their best horses to anyone.

One of her first tasks when she arrived at Tetton Hall in 1995 was to pick out the most promising horses from a field full of youngsters. Primitive Control, a four-year-old who had just been backed, stood out because of his impressive movement. This was to be one of the two horses she rode when she first competed at Badminton in 2000 and he exceeded all her expectations by finishing in sixth place. Her one sadness was that her father had died the previous year and was not there to enjoy her success.

As a result of her sixth place, Pratt received the handsome Laurence Rook Trophy as the highest-placed British rider who had not previously completed Badminton and, to her astonishment, she was long-listed for the Sydney Olympics. She did not get on the Olympic squad, but the following year she was chosen to compete as an individual rider in the 2001 European Three-Day Event Championships at Pau in France, where she finished in 26th place.

Having been seventh at Burghley last year on Primitive Control, as well as finishing 10th on the 2003 British Event Riders Rankings, she was long-listed for this year's Athens Olympics and might well have been part of the team but for the wealth of talent available to the selectors. As one of the 14 "élite" riders on the World Class Performance squad, she greatly appreciated the opportunity to receive training from top professionals - among them the Great Britain team manager, Yogi Breisner.

Pratt's death as the result of a horrible fall last Saturday at Burghley Horse Trials, where Dick Kinsey's 12-year-old Primitive Streak fell on her two fences from home, sent shock waves through the eventing world. She was known and esteemed by all the leading riders, as was evident when Britain's five medallists from this year's Athens Olympics formed a sombre line-up in the arena at Burghley as they joined a one-minute silence in her memory. They knew her as a dear friend as well as a respected fellow competitor.

Genevieve Murphy

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