Memories of the British Nationals: Silver Satyr

Our look back at the British National Championships in this Centenary year for the Arab Horse Society continues. Today, Silver Satyr makes a return to our look-back at champions, this time as recalled by his breeder Liz Titterington.

35-294-33 Silver Satyr and Bill Gore

Silver Satyr – Liz Titterington
We bred Silver Satyr at Birkrigg Park in 1980. He was the culmination of 15 years breeding of pure-breds by myself and my late father, Norman Jackson. From the beginning, there was something very special about this handsome colt. His looks, conformation, movement and character all shrieked quality and purposefulness.

Satyr went as a four-year old to sisters Caroline Whitaker and Janet Chadwick for backing and producing. In the course of his first season, he sat on the bonnet of a car at his first show, rolled in cow muck prior to going in the ring, spooked at every little thing and drove us all to distraction! Nevertheless, at the end of an inauspicious season, he won the championship of the show at a local riding club and so he convinced us to continue the following year.

In his second season, which was in 1985, Satyr was class winner and champion at the Three Counties Show and Ridden Champion at the AHS Northern Show Haydock Park. At the British Nationals, held then at Ascot, he won the pure-bred ridden stallion class, but had to concede the championship to Bright Dancer ridden by Justine Crawford.

Silver Satyr c

By this time, Satyr had acquired both a reputation and a following of fans. He did not disappoint them. I think much of his appeal lay in his ability to surprise us and keep us constantly stressed. We were never sure what would happen next. He would go into the ring, convinced in his own mind that he would win. And he did, if he behaved. If he didn’t, it was always in front of the judge with inevitable consequences in the line up.

No matter what the outcome of the class, for us – and I think for many spectators – the highlight would always be seeing him really flatten out in his gallop. No mere extending down the far side for him, only the real thing would do.

1986 was a busy season for Satyr. He won classes at Leicester, Stafford, Royal Lancashire, Midland Counties and at Haydock Park.

The National Show at Ascot paddocks that year was the usual fraught affair for the Satyr team. We all knew he could do it. The problem, as always, was would he behave?

Satyr could and he did. He was magnificent, an elegant, powerful stallion that looked like a rocking horse – dappled grey and foot perfect! The stallion class was won. All he had to do was to keep his act together for the championship where he was up against the old enemy in the shape of Bright Dancer and also the gelding winner Muskedet. A buck by Bright Dancer in the individual shows left the way clear for Satyr to show his true mettle. He rose to the occasion: his gallop was awe inspiring and it was debatable whether Janet would ever slow him down.

But she did and he came back down to a walk with no histrionics. After all, he knew he was champion and must behave in a gentlemanly manner! The Anglos and part-breds posed no problem in the overall championship. Satyr always knew that he was king; now it was official.

That was 21 years ago. Satyr is still with us here at Birkrigg and here he will remain: the Grand Old Man whose achievements we will always remember and whose progeny are following in his footsteps.

Satyr has had many other successes and adventures, but 12 July 1986 was Silver Satyr’s day and one that I shall never forget.

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This post comes from a series we first ran in The Arabian Magazine in 2005. Called Malvern Calling, the series celebrated British National Champions from Malvern, Ascot and even Kempton Park, and different readers shared their favourite memory from the British Nationals. There is always something special about watching the moment a horse is crowned British National Champion, so please enjoy the memories that will be shared here over the coming month.

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