I suppose I was born with horses in my blood. During WWII, my father spent time in Saumur, teaching the French cavalry to drive tanks and my aunt Elizabeth was one of the first to pass the new BHSAI exam at Porlock, Devon. A lifetime addiction began for me, aged four. My family couldn’t afford to buy me a pony, so I had a series on loan. There was the roan half-Hackney Radiant, who changed colour every season and the New Forest, Hotspur Frederick, who liked to bolt.


After college and working in London, I joined BOAC (forerunner of British Airways) as a stewardess and flew around the world for 26 years. As well as becoming a cabin crew trainer, I flew on Concorde for two years and ended my career as a manager, responsible for 350 crew.

While flying, I continued to loan horses, until I finally bought my first one: a four-year-old by the HIS [Hunter Improvement Society] stallion Armagnac Monarch out of a Middle Temple mare. He was named Daylight Monarch (Buggy), after the early morning flight from New York to London.

He was kept at the yard of the renowned dealer Marion Bowden, under the watchful eye of her talented nagsman Jeff Gould. As well as starting a lorry-load of youngsters from Cork each year, Jeff competed Grade A show jumpers and most years, produced a string of horses for the HOYS Foxhunter finals. He started Bouncer, who went to the Montreal Olympics, amongst other top-class horses. Buggy and I competed at intermediate level eventing, medium level dressage and twice went to HOYS. We won the Royal Windsor working hunter championship. During this era, with the hunting fan Lord King in charge of British Airways, I was fortunate to have my lorry sponsored by the airline.

Lucinda Starling (left), is an annual visitor to the Cavan inspections where she met Charlotte Moore, Trish Dodd (with Whiskey) and fellow IDHS(GB) member Ellen Walton. \ Susan Finnerty

Herding cats

Having married, I ran a small yard nearby with a friend. I found a second youngster, a good-moving black Irish gelding who hadn’t grown tall enough for the Army. I named him Executive Jet and he later went on to win a Kur for the British junior dressage team.

Then there was Constellation (I’m A Star x Ben Purple) and Murphy’s Band (Golden Bash), which I bought from the shrewd local dealer David Taylor. I evented both, then sold them on. When we moved to a rented property near Lingfield, Surrey, with plenty of land, I started a livery yard and bought my first purebred mare, Miss Mill, a breed champion. Then I went shopping to Inishowen sales, coming home with an Agherlow x Euphemism two-year-old and a very cheeky gelding, supposedly a Water Serpent relative. I called him Red Card because he was so naughty, but he was extremely talented and won the Southeast novice show jumping title with Brian Lear.

Meanwhile, Miss Mill produced a colt by Andes (TB) so I registered my Flypast prefix and became a breeder. My first sport horse, Flypast Legend, was runner-up at the Burghley Young Event Horse finals, with Sarah Bullimore. There have been wins at the IDHS(GB) Breed Show through the years and successes showing and eventing my homebreds.

Marriage ended

Sadly, my marriage ended and I moved home to Buckinghamshire with three horses and a Great Dane dog in tow. I had gone back to BA, working on the ground caring for children flying unaccompanied. This was a serious learning curve and could resemble herding cats round Terminal 5.

After Miss Mill died, I bought Sea Mist, the dam of Skip And Sea. She bred me three purebred fillies; two Class 1 mares, by Carrick Gold and Amber Glen; unfortunately, the third broke her stifle jumping out of her field.

After competing an ISH by Kildalton Gold, I bought Irish Sapphire (Huntingfield Rebel x Powerswood Purple) and we enjoyed riding club events and affiliated dressage. Despite breaking my back in 2018, we won a national championship for Draughts a year later, my first-ever sash.

At this time, I was fortunate to buy Innisfree Lecarrow Ruby (Crannagh Hero) from the late Eddie Murphy. She has had two lovely fillies by Avanti Amorous Archie and is the dam of multiple champion Silver Lough.

Judging panel

I joined the IDHS(GB) judging panel 14 years ago and then the mare inspection team. My invitations to judge in Ireland have been an honour.

I try to ‘get my eye in’ for the year at the Cavan stallion inspections and can usually be found hanging around Ring 1 for the RDS Draught classes. This year I have inspected stallions for the first time, which was a serious responsibility. Two years ago, I moved to Wiltshire where the mares are kept with Gary Witheford. He’s started hundreds of racehorses, including Sea The Stars and he’s foaled quite a few too.

Irish Sapphire bred a Steeped in Luck colt last year which I sold to Ireland, hopefully to be run on. A Grange Bouncer x Diamond Chin mare I found in Carlow, passed the Supplementary Grade Up inspection with a merit for jumping. She’s in foal to Winter Games (TB), so I’m hoping to breed another Lenamore. I have an ISH eventing mare (NC Amiro x Clover Hill x TB), who is also due to Winter Games.

I’m still in touch with my BA pals and only recently stopped performing in the award-winning cabin crew pantomime. The fun choir in Pewsey and local amateur dramatic society keeps me busy, while my addiction to Irish horses continues and I sincerely hope there’s no cure.