New Zealand eventer Megan Heath, who finished 15th at the weekend’s Luhmühlen International Horse Trials with St Daniel, won the US$1000 HSBC Training Bursary for the best CCI4* debut performance.
The achievement was all the more noteworthy because Heath, 35, lives in London, where she works full time in banking, and started eventing only two years ago.
She also finished 10th on St Daniel in the CCI3* at Ballindenisk in Ireland in February.
Previously, she kept a jumping horse with fellow Kiwi Grant Wilson in Belgium, commuting at weekends to compete for fun, but temporarily gave up riding altogether six years ago due to pressure of work.
She bought St Daniel from German Olympic gold medalist Peter Thomsen, who was on hand at Luhmühlen to walk the cross-country with her. Heath’s compatriots Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson also provided plenty of advice.
The 11-year-old St Daniel is by the British bred thoroughbred sire Star Regent, who stands in Germany, and out of the Der Clou mare Donnice, a hanoverian. Star Regent is also the dam-sire of the top performer Butts Leon.
“If I’d known in advance I was going to finish 15th, I’d have been thrilled,” said Heath.
“Now, of course, in hindsight, I keep thinking about all the things I could have done better. I certainly need to improve my dressage and I’m going to do more running in future.
“When I got to eight minutes on the cross-country, there still seemed a long way to go. But I wasn’t over-awed by the course, probably because I didn’t have anything to compare it to, and I knew my horse was brave and honest,” she said.
Heath said she was going to contemplate her next major outing on the flight home, but was considering Pau in France in October.