From gypsy camp to European show champ

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A wild gypsy horse once tethered at the side of a road has strutted to fame as the best-looking equine in Europe.

Handsome Cody, once so temperamentalthat he was written off by seven different owners, swept the board at the recent European Championships.

Under his ‘posh’ name of Appledor Fandango, the 10-year-old part-bred gelding beat thoroughbreds from all over the continent to win six firsts, one second, a third and a fourth.

With him was owner Kim Bonny, who spotted an advert in the window of Stony Stratford pet shop five years ago.

“I popped in to buy bird wormer and ended up buying a horse,” said 59-year-old Kim, who lives at Emerson Valley.

“At first I wondered what I’d let myself in for. Cody was so difficult that for ages he spent more time on two legs than four because he bucked and reared so much.”

Kim’s patience and gentle training at Bow Brickhill’s Skelton livery yard paid off and Cody’s behaviour gradually improved.

“When I started unravelling his history I could understand why he was so difficult. In such a short time he’d had so many owners – including a set of travellers,” she said.

Cody was spotted tethered at a roadside by a passer-by, who bought him from the travellers to rescue him.

Last year, even before the European success, Kim was offered £20,000 for the horse.

“I refused. I would not part with him for all the money in the world. He will never have another owner,” she said..