Michigan-based eventer Philippa Humphreys purchased Peter Barry’s four-star mount Sir Donovan in a transaction that closed on April 3.
“Donald,” a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse (VDL Arkansas—Flown, Imperius), was developed by Katie Frei (née Ruppel), who placed 15th on him at the 2013 Rolex Kentucky CCI****. Barry purchased the horse after that four-star outing and competed him briefly at the intermediate level before handing the reins to Boyd Martin early this spring.
With Martin, the chestnut gelding finished fifth at advanced at Pine Top (Ga.) and fourth at the Red Hills International CIC*** (Fla.).
Humphreys, who moved to the United States from England in 2005, most recently competed her pinto, Rich N Famous, at the two-star level. She’d been searching for a new mount to gain mileage at the upper levels, and after running into several dead ends while looking in England, she contacted Frei to see whether she knew of any promising mounts on the market. Frei in turn suggested Donald and sent Humphreys to Martin.
“Boyd basically said they wouldn’t sell him until after Rolex,” said Humphreys, 31. “I didn’t want to buy the horse and have him campaign it, just because I was concerned about injury more than anything. So then when Boyd got hurt [Martin broke his leg in a fall on March 23]—I felt like I was kicking him while he was down a little bit—I gave him a call and asked if this changed the situation with Donald. I think his original plan was for Phillip Dutton to ride him at The Fork [CIC***] and make a decision based on that. And then Boyd ended up contacting me and said he had talked to Peter and that they would sell him.”
After a successful veterinary check, Donald met Humphreys at the Kentucky Horse Park on April 6 and will return home with her to Rogue River Equestrian Center in Rockford, Mich., out of which Humphreys operates PH Eventing when not training and competing on the East Coast.
Before getting on him for the first time, Humphreys sought advice from Frei and Martin.
“They said he could be a little tricky on the flat, but Boyd’s done a great job with him there,” she said. “When I head to the East Coast to compete, I hope to be able to ride with Boyd a little bit and get some pointers on him.
“I think that Katie produced him very well, but she was also learning the ropes as they moved up together. He’s proven himself to be a good campaigner in that respect,” she continued. “Then Boyd took him and improved his dressage a little bit more, and in the short time that Boyd had him, he had some excellent results.
“I’ve never had a horse that could teach me something,” added Humphreys, who doesn’t have specific plans for Donald yet aside from developing a solid partnership. “I’ve always produced my own, so it’s exciting to be able to kind of drive a Ferrari and see how we get on.”