Farewell Enfant: Vicky Thompson-Winfield's Olympic ride passed away
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Vicky Thompson-Winfield’s Olympic partner Enfant has been put to sleep, following a long and happy retirement, at the great age of 34. Trained and mentored by the late great Franz ‘Rocky’ Rochowansky, a former Chief Rider at the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Vicky and Enfant represented Great Britain at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996.
Vicky was involved in training ‘Impy’, who was foaled in 1986, from the age of three after she sourced him from the Netherlands for owner Elaine Smith. Elaine competed him up to Prix St Georges before handing the reins to Vicky who, over a period of 15 months, took the 16hh son of Ubis from a solid PSG performer into a fully-fledged Grand Prix contender.
The elegant combination first emerged onto the international stage in 1995 when they won the pas de deux at the European Championships in Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg. Vicky riding Enfant and Carl Hester riding Gershwin (pictured below) took the competition to a whole new level. Not only were they technically better than the other six pairings, but their artistic marks were six percent ahead of any of their nearest rivals.
That year, Vicky and Enfant enjoyed further international success and rounded off their season by winning the PSG and Inter I at the National Championships.
In 1996, Vicky’s belief that Enfant was ready to ‘go up another notch’ was fully vindicated with his performances that year, which culminated with clear cut victories in the Grand Prix at Royal Windsor, the Intermediate II at Rennes CDI and numerous high placings at European events.
They achieved their Olympic qualifying score at Asti CDI in Italy in the May and sufficiently impressed the selection committee in a trial to warrant making the shortlist for the Atlanta Olympic Games. The later announcement of their selection onto the Olympic squad came as a wonderful surprise 34th birthday present for Vicky.
The pair completed their final warm up in the iconic arena at Aachen CDIO in Germany - their first official senior team event. Great Britain came second to the home nation and Vicky rode Enfant with confidence in the Grand Prix and Special to be Britain’s highest placed rider with placings of 13th and 16th respectively.
At the Atlanta Olympic Games they rode alongside Jane Bredin with Cupido, Richard Davison with Askari and Joanna Jackson with Mester Mouse for team eighth.
Enfant was later partnered by Polly Hodges who competed him at the FEI Junior European Championships in 2000 and 2001, and then by Rosie Moreton-Deakin who competed him to Grand Prix before he retired aged 20.
“RIP little man, Impy you were the best,” said Rosie on Facebook.