Alana Sparrow and Angels Spirit aka Goose have an enormous contingent of friends and family heading to Badminton to cheer them round the Mitsubishi Motors Cup BE90 course including Goose’s owner and former rider, Rasshid Din.
Rasshied, who owns Chelwood Equestrian Centre in East Sussex bought Goose in 2014 with the aim of qualifying for Badminton. The combination had a great first season, winning their first event at Chilham, along with lots of great placings, but unfortunately missed qualifying for Badminton by one point.
The following year their form dropped off and didn’t return with any consistency. After extensive tests last year Rasshied has unfortunately been identified as having an acute problem with his eyesight, which has resulted in double vision and problems with his balance. Whilst he can still ride, he sadly can no longer jump.
Philosophical in his outlook Rasshied explained that it was the same week that he had decided that he would have to hand the reins over to someone else that Alana came for an interview. He said: “If I can’t ride her, I couldn’t think of anyone better than Alana. It was all meant to be.”
Rasshied describes Goose as: “The best horse I have ever had. She is sweet and kind with a big heart. Once she has worked something out, she will just do it. She is a horse that just gives all of the time.”
Twenty-one-year-old Alana graduated from Durham with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) last June and started working at Chelwood Equestrian Centre straight after her graduation. Alana laughs as she tells me that all her friends are working for banks or accountancy firms in London. Adding that she had wanted to leave school and work with horses when she was 16, but she stuck with her studies.
Alana who comes from a non-horsey, yet very supportive family, has been horse mad, since her first riding lesson aged three. She became a horse owner for the first time last year when her family bought Fashion Rocks aka Rocko, a horse she had loaned from Bryony Whittington for the previous five years.
When she was 15 Alana had spent her summer working for Francis Whittington, sadly during this time, the horse Alana loaned suffered a tragic accident and Bryony offered Alana the ride on Rocko. They have had five good seasons competing at BE90 and BE100, qualifying for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at BE100 level in both 2016 and 2017. Alana credits Bryony and her mother, Angie, with helping her progress over the years and achieving what she has to date.
Alana is looking forward to returning to Badminton for a third time this year. She said that having been before it makes a massive difference, as she knows where everything is, knows the set up and knows how parts of the cross country course ride.
Perfect grassroots horse
Just like Rasshied, Alana only has wonderful things to say about Goose. She said: “She is so different from my own horse. She is level headed and kind, exactly what you want in a grassroots horse.”
The pair have been putting in a lot of training over the winter and Alana is grateful to Donald Kear for helping her to build a good partnership with Goose. They have also had jumping lessons with Nick Turner and help on the flat from Andrew Gould, James Burtwell and Ian Woodhead.
Hard to resist
Rasshied added: “Goose is looking fit and well and her dressage has come on greatly. I am very excited for Badminton, but just want them to come home safely.”
The mare is clearly one of the great loves of Rasshied’s life and he has stocked up on plenty of her favourite treats, Stud Muffins, for Badminton. Alana said: “Goose is addicted to Stud Muffins. Rasshied has bought her 90 to take to Badminton. When she gets back from cross country she will wander to the back of the lorry where they are stored and wait patiently with a look on her face that you can’t resist.”
As the combination set out around the course at Badminton they will be supported by Rasshied and his partner, Tim, Alana’s parents and her grandmother, plus lots of friends and liveries. I think there will be a few cheers along the way as Goose gallops home to her ‘Stud Muffin’.