Nick Skelton’s 2016 Rio Olympics gold medal-winning hero Big Star has been spotted having a “pop” at home under the showjumper’s daughter-in-law, Bridget Andrews, who is married to his jockey son Harry Skelton.
The 17-year-old stallion son of Quick Star has returned to Nick’s Warwickshire stables – where son Dan also trains his racehorses from – following his duties at stud.
“Big Star has been back from stud for about a month now and Nick said I could take him for some hacks about the farm,” says National Hunt jockey Bridget. “He loves keeping busy and isn’t due back at stud until February so it’s nice for him to be doing something at home.
“Then one day, Nick said I could give him a jump, so on Sunday [4 October] we had a pop over a fence, maybe 1m or so. We kept it small – after all, Big Star doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone,” she adds.
“Nick’s very chilled about me riding him, which makes me feel more relaxed. I’ve been desperate to jump him for a while! Harry used to jump Big Star at home when he was still showjumping competitively – now he’s retired, I’m happy to have a go.”
Bridget and Big Star have also enjoyed some spins up the gallops, usually used by the racehorses.
“He’s feeling pretty fresh at the moment,” says Bridget. “He’s good and well-behaved out hacking – he can jump around a bit but never does anything bad. He’s a big horse though, so he can be strong on the gallops.”
So will Big Star fans see him at any local shows soon?
“Definitely not,” emphasises Bridget. “He’s just going to have fun at home. I would love to carry on riding him on the days I’m not racing.”
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Cheltenham Festival-winning Bridget has been seen more on the showjumping circuit this summer having been gifted the ride on William Funnell’s Olympia victor Billy Angelo, and they have already enjoyed success together.
“I’ve been enjoying getting to know him over the summer months when racing has been quiet and we’re progressing,” adds Bridget. “Even though showjumping is different to race-riding, I have really enjoyed it and would love to do some more next summer.”
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