“I have long-suffering parents who have had to become horsey by default; I begged them for lessons and ended up taking my first at Samurai Park Riding School in Terrey Hills, Sydney,” explains Hayley Frielick of her introduction to riding. Born in the USA to South African parents, Hayley and her family moved to Australia when she as very young, before shifting to Scotland for six years. “That’s where I really got into riding, through the Pony Club system. I did a lot of pony show jumping… I didn’t really do much eventing as Mum was far too scared!”
Hayley and her family moved back to Australia when she was 15. “That’s when I said, ‘right, now I really want to get an event horse and go eventing’,” she explains. Her first event horse was a New Zealand Thoroughbred named Bentleigh Oliver from a student of Chris Burton, and he took her through to four-star when she was 18.
“That was pretty cool… I went from not having evented to going clear and under time at our first four-star, in about three years. We would have every single rail down in the show jumping, and the dressage was a work in progress, but he was a just a phenomenal horse to learn cross country on, he was so quick and honest. I was lucky enough to find that horse and base with Chris; that was my introduction to eventing, so we were thrown into the elite level from the get-go and I went, ‘yep, I love it!’”
From there, along came two more off-the-track Thoroughbreds: My Happiness and Class Action. Hayley went on to compete both at Adelaide five-star, with My Happiness – who sadly passed away earlier this year – making his five-star debut at the grand age of 18. Riding under the New Zealand flag, Hayley enjoyed success with both horses and was long-listed for the Tokyo Olympics with Class Action.
“He was the first horse that I was planning to bring to the US, but with Covid all plans got cancelled. So little Nelson – Dunedin Black Watch – had to step up, and he ended up making the trip instead.”
Dunedin Black Watch, a 2010 off-the-track Thoroughbred by Dylan Thomas (Danehill) out of Love First (Lonhro), is Hayley’s latest star. Bred and raced in Queensland, he went on to become “a fairly useless racehorse” under the name Storm in Africa, with seven starts for a third placing and $1200 in total prizemoney.
“Knowing him now, there’s no way he would’ve liked being a racehorse,” laughs Hayley. “He absolutely hates other horses in his space. If he could have run a solo time trail, I reckon they would’ve had a very fast horse, but put other horses around him and he’s going to wiggle around and absolutely hate it.”