Scott Brash’s charismatic “Jezza” has such a spectacular jump that Nick Skelton would have been tempted out of retirement to ride him. Jennifer Donald meets a “very special horse” who carries his rider’s Olympic dreams to Tokyo next week
Breeding: BWP by Cooper VD Heffinck out of Hovis (by Irco Mena)
Rider: Scott Brash
Breeder: Bernard Mols (Belgium)
Owners: Lady Pauline Harris and Lady Pauline Kirkham
Hello Jefferson’s greatest achievements: won CSI5* grand prix of Valkenswaard (July 2021), won CSI5* LGCT grand prix of Stockholm (June 2021), runner-up in CSI5* LGCT grand prix of Madrid (May 2021), won two CSI4* grands prix of Saint Tropez (August and October 2020), runner-up in the Longines international grand prix of Ireland, Dublin (August 2019), double clear as part of the winning team in the Nations Cup of Dublin (August 2019).
Rider Scott Brash
“FOUR years ago, we were looking for a horse and I went to a couple of shows where I just spent the whole day watching and looking. I saw Jefferson at Peelbergen [with previous rider Charlotte Philippe] and really liked him, but they weren’t too keen to sell at that time. But we kept in touch and a few months later we bought him.
“I could see there was a lot of quality there – he was powerful, he was careful, he was quick – and he gave me a very good feeling at the jump but he was very sharp. There was still a lot of flatwork to be done with him – it felt like he didn’t just understand things to start with.
“When I got him home he was actually really tricky and hard work – he has a bit of character about him! He’s very clever and has such a busy brain that he always wants to be doing something. But he’s trained on really well and we’ve grown so much as a partnership – we understand each other now and I think he’s a very special horse.
“My proudest moment was in Dublin 2019 when he jumped double clear for the Nations Cup team then was second in the grand prix – that’s when it all started to come together and I was proud to realise he was definitely going to fit in at the top end of the sport having coped with an atmosphere like that.
“He’s always been an obvious choice for the Olympics – I think he will handle the trip and conditions well and he’s such a talented horse. It’s great to be back at an Olympics and we should be going with high expectations or what’s the point in going? I know what it takes, it’ll be a tough week, there will be lots of drama but we’re ready for it. I feel he’s in very good shape and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Groom David Honnet
“HE’S a sweet horse who is really attached to people and just wants lots of attention in the stable. He likes to make tea with his hay and he’s always on a mission when you lead him out.
“Scott calls him Jezza but my nickname for him is just Jeff. I’ve looked after him since he arrived with Scott and it’s been quite a long process to get to where we are now so it makes me very proud to see him in the ring.
“This is my first Olympic Games but right now it feels just like a normal show – but when the competition starts, I know it will feel very exciting.”
Lord Harris, husband of co-owner Lady Harris with Lady Kirkham
“HE was very sharp at the beginning but we also knew he could jump extremely well and I’ll never forget Nick Skelton even said to me when he saw him: ‘If you let me ride that horse, I’ll come out of retirement!’
“We’ve taken it slowly and built him up, and the last four grands prix he’s jumped in have resulted in two wins and two seconds, so hopefully he’s in good form at the right time. He has come on so much this year because of all the groundwork Scott has put in over the years.
“The first Olympic horse we had was Countryman [with David Broome] and sadly we won’t be at these Games but it still gives us such a thrill and Scott is fantastic – it doesn’t matter if he’s jumped a novice or a grand prix horse, within five minutes of him jumping I have a WhatsApp video of the round and he phones me and we talk it through.
“I think Emily Moffitt was unlucky not to be in the team but with Ben Maher and Scott we have a good chance – as long as they come home safe, but with a medal would be a bonus.”
You can also read this feature in the 30 July issue of Horse & Hound magazine.
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