It is a first Badminton for British rider Gubby Leech (34), who is based near Salisbury in Wiltshire. Last year Gubby and Badminton entry Xavier completed Burghley.
Gubby grew up on his parent’s farm and has been ‘riding since he could walk’. He was a member of the Wilton Pony Club participating in tetrathlon, eventing and showjumping. On his 10th birthday he received the surprise present of a foal ‘Surprise Opposition’ from his Godfather John Johnstone (owner of Landford Common Stud whose daughter Kirsty is entered for Badminton). Gubby produced Surprise Opposition, now a broodmare, from foal to three-star and the pair was 19th at Blenheim.
After leaving school Gubby decided to concentrate on eventing and spent three months with Harry Meade training with the Late Richard Meade, after which he decided to forge a career in eventing. He spent a year with Pippa and William Funnell then took a job with Richard Ames in Suffolk running the event yard and training and competing. He then ran his own yard from home – in 2009 representing GB at the World Young Horse championships (Caetano) and at the end of that year relocated to Clarendon Park near Salisbury where he now runs Gubby Eventing.
In 2015 a fall at Rackham horse trials kept him out of the saddle for six months.
Gubby trains with Lizzy Murray and Damian Hallam
Gubby is married to Sarah and the couple has two children; Olivia (4) already a member of the Wilton PC and Jack (18 mths).
Xavier, owned by Antionette Denham Harding, is a 12-year-old Irish-bred gelding. He is by Clover Echo (sire of HHS Cooley, DHI Hot Chip and Irish European championship showjumper Echo Beach). He is out of Knightfield Sally by the jumping stallion Cruising. Xavier was purchased from Cavan sales and ridden by his owner in his first year of eventing. Gubby took the ride in 2012 progressing from BE 100 to Intermediate in their first season. He is described as ‘the perfect gentleman’.