Today’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine is our ‘nostalgia special’ — celebrating the stars of yesteryear. So here we rewind the clock 51 years to 1967 when the pint-sized Stroller clinched the Hickstead Derby title...
When and where?
June 1967, The All England Jumping Course, Hickstead, West Sussex
What happened on that day?
In just the seventh year of the Hickstead Derby’s history, 20-year-old farmer’s daughter Marion Coakes stormed to victory on her Irish pony Stroller, who stood at just over 14.2hh. It was every schoolgirl rider’s dream — a pony bought for junior showjumping who launched her onto the international scene.
That day, Stroller was was the only one out of 44 starters to achieve a clear round. “When we sailed over the last fence, having completed the only clear round of the day, the crowd of 25,000 went crazy,” remembers Marion. “It was one of the most exciting moments of my life.”
The pair had been launched into the limelight in 1964 when they won the Hickstead Derby Trial, following it up a year later by taking the ladies’ World Championship at Hickstead, when Marion was just 18 years old.
While horses of far greater stature might have struggled with the hair-raising spreads, parallels, banks and ditches that Hickstead was so famous for, this bay pony soared over with ease, capturing Britain’s imagination.
Watch Marion win the ladies’ World Championship at Hickstead in 1965:
What happened next?
The following year after their Hickstead triumph, Marion and Stroller were called up for the Olympic Games in Mexico, taking home an individual silver medal. In 1968, they were second in the Hickstead Derby, and third in 1970 — the same year that Stroller was leading showjumper of the year at Horse of the Year Show. The iconic pony was retired in the 1970s, and lived until he was 36.