Main House – Meet The Beauchamps… and a love rival
Tash Beauchamp, on a baby break from professional riding, is married to the divine Hugo, making her the envy of many women, horsey or no. Funny, generous and loyal, her warmth is a magnet to all comers, along with her unassuming, leggy beauty and love of entertaining at the huge kitchen table at Haydown, the Beauchamps’ family home. Graced with a vivid imagination and great artistic flair, she’s never happier than when painting or making up stories for her children Cora and Amery.
Tash hides her insecurities during the long days and weekends that Hugo is away competing. Self-deprecating about her own riding achievements, she’s all too aware of her clumsiness and baby weight, and ever more fearful that she has lost her nerve.
Hugo Beauchamp is a talented and fearless event rider, with the heart of an old-fashioned sportsman and just enough ruthlessness to keep him ahead of the game. Having topped the three-day-eventing ranks for almost a decade and ridden for his country many times, his immense bravery has won countless fans. His greatest passions in life are his wife and family, and he is fiercely loyal, although the silver spoon from his privileged upbringing has stiffened his upper lip too much to ever talk openly about feelings. As well as the legendary Beauchamp good looks and sharp wit, Hugo has inherited magnificent Haydown House in West Berkshire, but constantly struggles to balance the books between running the estate and pursuing the sport he loves.
Approaching forty, he has lost none of the white-hot charm that wooed many women during his reckless bachelor days, and his fidelity remains under constant scrutiny among the gossip-loving eventing crowd.
Lough Strachan has succeeded the hard way, juggling his sporting passion with a full-time career as a vet. The product of a Scottish mother and Maori father, he grew up in the backstreets of Auckland determined to ride for a living. Known as the Devil on Horseback, he is New Zealand’s greatest three-day-event rider, current world champion, and renowned for his bad temper and bloody-mindedness. Women love him for his black-eyed, broad-shouldered machismo, and he possesses the sort of brooding sex appeal that should come with a health warning, but he lives only for his sport and his horses, and will reputedly stop at nothing to get what he wants.
Main Yard – Meet The Horses
White Lies, a wise-eyed grey thoroughbred who was bred to be a staying chaser, could have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup had he continued racing. And he’s stayed loyal longer than any while Rory chased his dreams of four-star eventing glory. Wily, smart and occasionally very opinionated, he loves his job and knows all the tricks. After a severe accident almost killed him, it was decided to retire Whitey from competition, but the old campaigner has other ideas.
Rio, aka Baron Areion, has been a gift horse several times in his young life, and if looked in the mouth the stallion would flash the most charming of smiles. Bred with a little bit of mythical Lodes Valley magic in his pedigree, he looks every inch the superstar, his black coat glossy enough for spectators to admire their reflection in as he scorches around any cross country course with such effortless skill he seems to have wings on his hooves.
Heart, or Cœur d’Or, has ultimate performance horsepower – he is the equine sports car every daredevil wants to ride but none can tame. His scope is phenomenal, along with his speed and accuracy, and he is as beautiful as any Ferrari, but such unbridled power and fierce determination makes him a white-knuckle ride for all but the most brave or foolhardy.
Sand Arena – Unrequited Love
Rory Midwinter, like his Jack Russell terrier Twitch, is daring, flirtatious and prone to waywardness. A long-lashed Lochinvar with a daybreak smile, his easy-come, easy-go attitude suits the gypsy life on the horse trials circuit, although his lack of cash and sponsors has always held him back, along with a fondness for scotch and carousing. Beloved of married women, Rory has an infectious sense of fun and throws his heart into everything he does; an incurable romantic who falls in love even more often than he falls off horses, he’s spent most of his twenties getting his heart broken, unaware that his greatest love could be right under his nose.
Faith Brakespear was born into a dressage dynasty, but her love of eventing makes her willing to take the hard knocks of horse trials in pursuit of her dreams. Tough talking and hard working, she carefully conceals the softest of centre from all but the horses she adores. But as she comes of age she has started to realise that she may need to hothouse her blossoming from tomboy into womanhood in order to attract the attention of Rory, the only true love of her life.
Indoor School – Meet The Beautiful People
Sylva Frost is a hugely successful Eastern European import, a playful WAG turned celebrity brand: Britain’s Favourite Single Mum. A red-top regular who provides Cheers! magazine with six-page spreads on a monthly basis, she is a professional from the tips of her platinum hair extensions to her French-polished toes, aware that great styling and constant reinvention is the lifeblood of staying famous. Accustomed to subjugating her true personality for the sake of celebrity, Sylva allows her management team to control everything from her diet to her love life with scientific precision, but there is the occasional explosive backlash when her naughty side comes out to play.
Dillon Rafferty has lived in the shadow of his famous Rockfather Pete for over three decades, following in the old man’s footsteps on and off stage and in and out of rehab. Now the chip off the old block has gone organic, enjoying a healthy life as a Cotswolds farming foodie. Sensitive and thoughtful, Dillon lacks the raw ambition that made his father a legend, but recently his recording career has been reinvented thanks to a global hit. He would secretly far rather produce cheese than sing cheesy ballads, and his waistline now owes more to his Cheddar presses than press-ups, but the income has enabled him to support local rider Rory, and treat his delightful daughters and demanding new girlfriend to a lot of shopping trips.
To Alicia’s Cottage and Farms – Outside Haydown
Alicia Beauchamp was long ago usurped as the most stalwart supporter of her younger son’s sporting career by his wife and professional backup team, but she still takes an active interest and rules the roost at Haydown, where she occupies the old gamekeeper’s cottage with her agreeable pug, Beefeater. A chain-smoking dinosaur with tremendous wit and charm, Alicia possesses the dazzling Beauchamp blue eyes, bone structure and sex appeal, stringing along a pack of beaux who are happy to be her bridge dummy, walker or loader. She slices through life as sharply as the lemon in her stiff drinks, despite advancing age and deafness.
Gus and Penny Moncrieff are great friends of the Beauchamps and real shoestring eventing pros whose house is falling apart, horsebox rusting to bits and socks full of holes, yet their horses gleam with good health and regularly post top scores. Constantly scrapping – never more so now Gus is enjoying an extramarital dalliance – they are a cornerstone of the sport, as ubiquitous as four-by-fours and Labradors, and adored by the public for their gritty determination and the breadth of the smiles that split across their faces whenever their horses do well.
Old Yard – Tash’s Trusty Companion
Beetroot the dog is an unladylike lady’s companion, prone to flatulence, short-sighted lapses of loyalty, inappropriate flirtation and mild psychosis. She shares her great taste in men with her mistress Tash, and sometimes share’s Tash’s bed with the greatest of them all, but more often than not she stretches luxuriously on the counterpane, passes wind and finds herself gently prised off the side by a determined male foot.