Arctic Soul ERHOTY

#ERHOTY17 Contender #7: Arctic Soul

At the outset of the 2017 season, Arctic Soul had only won once at international level. Seems hard to believe, doesn’t it? The Soul Syndicate’s superstar ex-racehorse has four career top-10 finishes at CCI4* level, with two of those coming in the 2017 season. The Irish bred long-format specialist has completed 11 of his 12 CCI runs across all levels. His only international win prior to this year came in the CCI2* at Balcarres Castle in Scotland in 2012, the one and only time the event ran.

It took five seasons for ‘Spike’ to get back on top of a podium. He was a hot favourite heading into the  British National Championships and ERM leg at Gatcombe and got the job done in style, becoming British National Champion and putting Gemma in the driving seat for the Event Rider Masters title. We could have picked a few of Gemma’s horses on the #ERHOTY17 list but this boy stands out. A fighter, an old reliable and in 2017, a winner.

arctic-soulArctic Soul started the 2017 international season at Belton, the first time he’d ever competed at the venue. One show jumping rail and 4.4 cross country time penalties placed them 22nd on a final score of 56.3 (still in the top 25% of the massive field). Then it was on to Badminton for Spike’s fourth career start at the venue. Expectations were high considering he had finished 3rd the previous year on a career best 44.6 FOD, but a tense test saw Spike sitting 67th after dressage on 55.8, the worse CCI4* dressage score of his career.

No surprise — cross country day at Badminton proved a good day to be sitting on a Thoroughbred. Only two horses made the time (La Bioshetique Sam FBW and Xavier Faer) and Spike’s 4.4 time penalties moved him up 55 spots on the leaderboard to 12th place. On the final day, seven of the horses in the top 10 after cross country knocked a pole or picked up time penalties in show jumping. Spike’s clear round inside the time moved him up to finish 7th on 60.2, 60 places above where he started after the first phase.

Artic Soul then made his Event Rider Masters debut at Gatcombe. A 44.5 in the first phase, Arctic Soul’s best dressage score since Gatcombe two years prior, placed him 12th to start. Poles went flying in show jumping, and only three pairs (9.3% of the field) managed clear rounds inside the time. Two rails down for Arctic Soul and we thought it was all over. No previous winner of an Event Rider Masters leg had knocked a pole. He still climbed one spot on the leaderboard to 11th but the trends are there for a reason but Gemma, and the EquiRatings ‘ boys, thought a win was surely out of her grasp. By lunchtime, Gemma was talking about Spike as a formula 1 car, and sure enough, he turned and burned around the Gatcombe track for the fastest time by 13 seconds. He crossed the finish closest to the optimum time, adding just 1.2 cross country time penalties to move from 11th up to win on 53.7. Cue the Event Rider Masters champagne showers! “Arctic Soul gave me the ride of my life,” Gemma said. “I think he is the best cross country horse in the world. It doesn’t matter what the terrain is. He suits any track. He is so versatile and just fabulous.”

Spike got another chance to show us just how fabulous he is at Burghley. He had finished 5th on his only previous visit to the venue (2014).  Rider and horse confidence was high from the beginning, scoring a four-star personal best of 43.0 to sit 8th after dressage. From his worst four-star dressage at Badminton to his best four-star dressage at Burghley in the same season! Gemma was sick that weekend and struggled to breathe on cross country the next day (if you haven’t seen her interview afterwards with Claire it was one of Diarm’s moments of the year. Claire asking questions, Gemma gasping for air). She opted to take the long route at the Trout Hatchery because she didn’t feel strong enough to sit back and make the turn, but speedy Spike made up more than enough ground.

Only three pairs made the optimum time on Burghley cross country day, and Spike skipped around four second inside the time to move up to 2nd place. One rail down in show jumping ultimately cost him the win. Fine margins at the top. Arctic Soul still finished 3rd on 47.0, his best result at Burghley to date and his lowest finishing score of the 2017 season. There is a screaming teenage girl fan club that follows around Quicklook V and Chico Bella P, but our main man in Gemma’s yard has more than earned his spot on the #ERHOTY17 list! He joins Nereo as our only other nominee that finished top 10 in two four-stars during the 2017 season. Will Spike have your vote next week?

Listen to the #ERHOTY17 episode of the Horseware Eventing Podcast to hear how we finalized the list of 12 nominees. Keep checking back to the EquiRatings blog for analysis articles on all 12: fischerRocana FST, Nereo, Arctic Soul, Horseware Hale Bob, Ballaghmor Class, Bulana, Hunter Valley II, Donner, Cekatinka, Calle 44, Ivar Gooden and Foxwood High.

Comments 71

  1. Best ever xc horse to watch. Don’t think I’ve ever seen such a lovely, exciting partnership between horse and rider as gemma and spike have together.

  2. Best xc horse ever. Takes my vote as he battles with his nerves to become the ultimate performer

  3. Mr consistent!! True 4* campaigner!! Makes Gemma happy as well!!, so makes my life easier!! Vote for spike.

  4. Always looked to be in a potential league of his own Cross Country when he first appeared .. actually wildly better than one could ever have envisaged (ie best in the world) … It is the progress on all the other parts that is the stunning part of this journey… and temperament is critical… Gemma has done a stunning job and they are an unbelievable partnership..

  5. Watching Gemma & Artic Soul is breathtaking. He’s certainly one in a million & if my ex racer can be anything like Spike, then I’ll be a very happy owner.

  6. Artic Soul aka Spike has such a huge heart and tries his best always in my opinion. He’s so thrilling to watch especially XC. He is one of the lucky racehorses to have found such a loving caring owner but that’s because he is one in a million.

  7. One of the most exciting horses cross country EVER! And a real ambassador for the thoroughbred in the sport.

  8. Arctic Soul has my vote. A horse that came late to eventing, ‘Spike’ has continued to progress in all disciplines to the point where he more than excelled at the top level in 2017. He is renowned for entertaining the crowds when blasting across country. Plus in winning best placed retrained racehorse at Badminton for the second year in succession he has also brought great credit to his thoroughbred breeding and eventing trainers.

  9. Absolute X Country machine!! Heart of a lion. A great, reliable partnership! He adores Gemma as much as she does him and it shows in every performance

  10. Come on seriously , best XC horse ever ? 30 international starts and only 2 wins and the Gatcombe 3* win this year was with 2 jumps down, time and a very weak field. Plenty of super horses out there that knock spots off this horse !

    1. Instead of saying saying negative about a horse u clearly know nothing about, vote for one who fliats your boat!

      1. Well considering this thread is on a website that is all about statistics and they clearly don’t lie i’ll stick with my original comment but thanks for your advice. I’ll vote for a horse and rider that deserves the recognition for actually achieving something !

  11. A fabulous horse to watch and such a great partnership between him and Gemma. He gets my vote and all the best for the next season when I’m sure he will be one of the greatest contenders for the top titles.

  12. Such a wonderful horse that deserves to win. He tries s very hard all of the time and trusts his rider which is a huge thing after everything he has gone through.

  13. Artic soul is a dude and a legend he is made of tough stuff and shows how any horse or breed can achieve ❤❤

  14. Brilliant horse, superbly ridden by Gemma to make a superstar combination. Gatcombe 2017 was the most exciting xc round ever and encapsulated the true spirit of eventing

  15. Arctic Soul is an absolute machine cross country, it doesnt matter what the terrain is he still romps around looking like he’s out for a hack with purpose but completely happy and enjoying himself.

  16. What a super star, takes your breath away when he thunders past on the xc course! Got my vote #superspike

  17. Phenomenal horse to watch cross country. Impressive that he made the change from being a racehorse to a 4* eventer. Super Spike gets my vote.

  18. Spike is the ultimate competitor. That begins in the stable and continues through the finish line. He is vested into winning as much as the rider is. This horse accepts nothing less than the best. Don’t stand near him, or he’ll bite you.

  19. Completely agree! My favourite horse to watch cross country. In my mind Sam is the greatest event horse we’ve ever seen, but Spike is the most exciting and impressive horse across the country I’ve ever seen.

  20. Definitely one of the leading XC horses at the minute !! Gemma thoroughly deserved to win the ERM series too

  21. LOVE this horse and enjoy watching him and Gemma tackle a XC track.
    Has my vote for sure !!

  22. I had the pleasure of hsving a x country clinic with Gemma she was amazing with my retrained racehorse so I definitely give my vote to Artic soul.

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