British rider Matthew Heath (36) is based not far from Stamford on the Leicestershire/Lincolnshire border where he runs his own purpose built training and competition yard. He came to Badminton for the first time in 2015 but The Lion was unfortunately eliminated at the first horse inspection. With The Lion Matthew has completed Burghley three times.
Matthew comes from an equestrian background; his Grandfather was the Head Stud Groom for the Croome Hunt and his father Trevor Heath was a professional National Hunt Jockey and then Head Lad for trainer Paul Webber. Matthew was brought up on a racing yard and started riding lessons at Shotteswell EC with loaned ponies. At the age of 11 he rode racehorses on the gallops, continued to work through the Pony Club and was one of the youngest to pass the prestigious Pony Club ‘A’ test. He was loaned Jane Starkey’s former horse Well Related which gave him his first taste of proper dressage. Matthew left school at 16 and spent the summer working for Nigel and Ann Taylor at Washbrook Farm, getting his first experience of eventing. He then did a two-year Equine Diploma at Moulton College and did work experience with Jane Starkey, who has been a valued supporter since. He returned to Washbrook Farm to continue his training and started competing aged 19 a – in total he spent 15-years at Washbrook farm.
In 2007, with Alligator Alley he was a member of the British Riding Clubs 2* team (now Rural Riders European Championships) that went to Sweden and in 2009 the team that went to Nagykanizsa where he was sixth individually (Gran Chaco). In 2010 with Alligator Alley he won the RoR final at Barbury Castle. Matthew made his four-star debut with The Lion, at Burghley in 2013 and the pair has competed there on five occasions.
The Lion, is a 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding. Bred by Sean Donohoe, he is by the Irish-based Belgian Warmblood Ricardo Z (also the sire of Fenyas Elegance and Sportsfield Othello) out of a mare by the thoroughbred Nad Elshiba (sire of Andrew Hoys former four-star horse Mr Pracatan). He was acquired in 2012 from Exmoor Eventing.
16.3hh , bay , gelding
Sire Ricardo Z
Dam Cartron Countess (Nad Elshiba)
Breeder Sean Donohoe
Emma Clarke, Marlborough, Wilts.
Clare Davis, Llandrindod Wells, Powys