Scottish Eventer, Charlotte Agnew is one of Great Britain’s most exciting, young talents. Having boasted
success at Junior, Young Rider and 4* level, she is now looking to the future with a yard full of gifted prospects.
To date, she predominantly owes her International success to Little Beau and Out of Africa II. Charlotte piloted the latter, aptly known as “Zulu” at home, to four, 4* completions before his well-deserved retirement following the Land Rover Burghley in 2015. Most impressive of the Gelding’s four star runs, was his fifth place finish on German soil back at Luhmühlen in 2012. Charlotte’s Mother, Livy Agnew gifted her with Zulu, a product of her successful breeding enterprise in Scotland. The Bay Gelding was produced out of Charlottes’ Fathers’ hunter and by the prolific Stallion, Welton Apollo. “It quickly became apparent that he had a bit of sparkle about him and he was special. He just took to the whole thing so easily”.
Foaled in 2000, his debut season under Charlotte in 2005 proved to be incredibly successful and it is easy to understand why the Agnew family were excited about his potential. In four runs, the homebred clinched two victories, twice finishing on his very impressive dressage scores of 30.0 and 33.5 respectively. He steadily progressed through the rankings until his first four star in 2012. “I’m so lucky that he came out as he did and I had the opportunity to ride such an amazing horse”.
Despite undoubtedly furthering her already blossoming career, it was not Out Of Africa II whom originally put Charlotte on the map as a name in Eventing. In her maiden British Eventing season in 2003, Charlotte mainly competed on the Scottish circuit with Little Beau. The nippy 15.3” Gelding took Charlotte to her first Badminton at the remarkable age of twenty. “When I did Badminton on Little Beau, I just kind of assumed it was going to be a big three star… I was a little bit shell shocked when I did arrive”.
Having been originally based in Scotland, it was Eventing legend, Ian Stark who guided her to the four star milestone at such a young age. “He trained me when I was growing up and was hugely inspirational and encouraging”. Despite training of such quality, any riders first Badminton is usually of high magnitude, “The first time was an amazing experience, but a seriously steep learning curve. Ian just kind of encouraged us and we’d done well at three star so that was naturally the next step. We had a fantastic partnership. He tried his little heart out for me”.
After such great success at such a tender age, Charlottes’ leading boys retired. Little Beau bowed out after three amazing runs in 2009, where the pair did not finish outside the top five. Out of Africa II hung up his Eventing shoes at the highest level following completion at Burghley in 2015.
However, the retirement of her two four star horses hasn’t seen Charlotte slow down. In fact, since relocating in December 2015, she has had over thirty BE runs on a variety of young, up-and-coming horses and is working her way back to the pinnacle of the sport. To assist her, the White Heather team was established. The innovative Enterprise Investment Scheme was developed to provide Team Agnew with a range of young horses to produce and sell, with originally, the ultimate aim being to provide Charlotte with a ride for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Although this was not achieved, the prospect of Tokyo Olympics of 2020 is incredibly realistic with a fully-formed string of White Heather horses flourishing under Charlottes guidance.
This buying and selling self-funded operation has unearthed one of Charlottes’ young stars. The immensely talented ten year old, Cooley Kudu has quickly progressed through the levels since 2014 and is earning himself a stellar reputation having breezed his way to an impressive double clear in his first advance this year. Presumably, the natural progression for “Benji” now will be his first three star in the 2017 season, which would stand him in excellent stead with half an eye on the selection for Tokyo in three years time. Perhaps he could be the horse to lead Charlotte to her inevitable selection to the Senior team?
The White Heather scheme is looking to expand over the coming years and actively seeking new investors, which would provide Charlotte with a greater pool of options for Tokyo and future Championships. The system has already produced a number of young horses, one of which has gone on to a career with Junior Rider, Amy Hulls. After two seasons with Charlotte, Charlie Harper, a former White Heather horse, was sold and has gone on to successfully compete with Amy, showing that the scheme can produce horses capable of performing consistently at a high level.
Top riders are spoilt for choice, with so many high class events to chose from in the UK and over seas. However, like every athlete, Charlotte has her favourite venues. “I love Blair because it’s obviously home and there are so many fantastic memories for me there. At Young Riders, that is where we won Team Gold”. With such close links with Scotland and Ian Stark, whom is now the Blair Atholl course designer, it is understandable why this event is one of Charlottes favourites. The other is less obvious. “I also love Blenheim because it’s been relatively local since I moved down South and it’s just such a beautiful location. It’s always so friendly and well-organised and beautiful to ride around”.
We hope that with a range of horses climbing through the levels, we can see Charlotte at both these events next season and beyond as she looks to the future with a fantastic team of sponsors, owners and support base to help along the way. It is sure to be an exciting time, with the expansion of her enterprise investment scheme and the last of her Mothers home-grown horses coming through. Charlotte could just be living the Eventers dream, with a number of prospects appearing capable of carrying her onto the senior team.
Amazing images brought to you courtesy of Dave Cameron.