THE winner of both Badminton and Burghley in 2009, Oliver’s success has always been based on hard graft and a love for the horses he works with. Oliver inherited this love of horses from his parents. His dad, Alan, was also an event rider, while mum, Eve, showed side saddle at county level.
Oliver began riding when he was 7 years old. His first success came when he was 11, with his pony Cool Mule at the Horse of the Year Show. At 13 he went on to represent Britain on the Pony eventing team at the European Championships, and he quickly moved through the ranks. For three years he was stable jockey to the late British Event Team show jumping trainer, Kenneth Clawson, in Leicestershire.
When Oliver eventually set up on his own at Lubenham Lodge, Leicestershire, he had just a few pounds in his pocket but an unquenchable thirst for success. Less than five years later he was able to buy his own farm in Dudleston Heath near Ellesmere, Shropshire where he is now based.
In 2005 the late Hon William Russell’s Topping provided Oliver’s first crack at Badminton and he made the most of it by finishing in 12th place. This earned them an individual place at the European Championships at Blenheim Palace the same year.
Team GB at the Pratoni European Championships 2007
Edward & Robert Nicholson’s Flint Curtis took over as Oliver’s top horse in 2006 after placing third at Badminton, the horse’s first four star event. Oliver remained on the British Squad, riding Flint as an individual at the Aachen WEG that year, before earning his first team place – and a European Championship gold medal – at Pratoni in 2007.
Flint Curtis wins Badminton 2009
Then came his most successful year to date: 2009. Oliver and Flint Curtis won their first CCI**** at Badminton and Oliver then went on to win Burghley CCI**** on his other top grey horse, Andrew Cawthray’s Carousel Quest.
Carousel Quest en route to winning Burghley 2009
Armada at Badminton 2014
In May 2014, at one of the toughest Badminton’s in decades, Armada finished in the runner up spot. Meanwhile Black Tie II placed 4th at his first ever CCI4*, Luhmuhlen, earning Oliver a place on the British Squad for the 2014 World Equestrian Games, with Armada named on the Reserve list.
Exciting new equine faces arrived on the yard in 2015, notably PJ Hegarty’s Fenyas Elegance. Consistently good results earnt the pair a place at the European Championships at Blair Castle, one small mistake costing them an individual medal.
Fenyas Elegance at the European Championships
Oliver also claimed both the British Novice and Intermediate Championship titles riding Sonic de Sermentol and Note Worthy respectively, while Cooley SRS topped the leaderboard in the Ballindenisk CCI3*, his first run at the level.
In 2016 Oliver bagged an incredible 2,341 British Eventing points, leaving him top of the BE Rider Rankings for the third year running, with a lead of over 1,000 points. He also comfortably broke the 50 FEI wins barrier.
Notable wins included his ninth Burnham Market CIC3* victory, two Burgham CIC3* classes and a Ballindenisk CIC3* – this time riding Fenyas Elegance, who bowed out from competition with this win on her owner’s home soil.
Cillnabradden Evo at Blair
Oliver was again crowned British National Champion, riding Cillnabradden Evo – the pair also winning the inaugural Event Rider Masters title thanks to a further win at Blair Castle and runner up spot at Blenheim. He wrapped up his season with a CIC3* win in Adelaide.
ODT Ghareeb won Oliver the most points, 251, to lie in 6th place in the horse rankings, with Cillnabradden Evo 9th on 233 and Samuel Thomas 11th on 218.