‘He knew he was a superstar, the way he swaggered’: the horse showing supremo Jayne Ross wishes she could have ridden

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  • Suppose your Christmas stocking contained a ride on the horse of your dreams… We find out which superstar of yesteryear this top rider would love to have sat on

    Jayne Ross is one of the most decorated showing producers, winning her first Horse of the Year Show title in 1966 with the pony Cusop Pirouette. She has ridden countless stars and while admittedly she isn’t one for “horse envy”, there is one racehorse she always admired.

    “If I could have Best Mate in my Christmas stocking, my goodness I’d be happy,” says Jayne Ross. “My husband and I knew his trainer Henrietta Knight well and often used to visit. I met Best Mate as a five-year-old at the end of his first season. He used to go out in the field with Edredon Bleu, his best friend as it were. The two of them were so lovely together.”

    Best Mate jumps the last with Jim Culloty up on their way to win the CheltenhamGold Cup, 14 March 2002, at the Cheltenham Festival. It was a first Gold Cup triumph for jockey Jim Culloty, trainer Henrietta Knight and owner Jim Lewis. The three-day meeting at Cheltenham, South-West England, is the pinnacle of English horse racing’s jumping season. AFP PHOTO GERRY PENNY/gp (Photo by GERRY PENNY / AFP) (Photo by GERRY PENNY/AFP via Getty Images)

    Best Mate jumps the last with Jim Culloty up on their way to win the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup

    One of the best-loved racehorses, Best Mate was known for winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup three consecutive times with Jim Culloty.

    “From a young horse, you could tell he was special. He was so beautifully put together and I really admired him – not just because of his ability as a racehorse, but because he was such a beautifully balanced and effortless mover. His stride was so organised and engaged all the time, he rarely made a mistake. He was always in such a perfect rhythm,” explains Jayne.

    “You watched him walk across the field and he was such an eyeful of a horse; short-coupled but slopey, and he had a lovely outlook. He’d have been everyone’s dream horse to win the Retraining of Racehorses classes.”

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