Aintree’s 1.40m battle of the two golden oldies: ‘He’s 19 but he comes out like a nine-year-old’

  • Spectators were treated to a gripping battle between two 19-year-old golden oldies at Aintree’s Elite Show recently in a blisteringly quick 1.40m open. Jumping legends Wet Wet Wet (Annabel Shields) and Wellington M (Kerry Brennan) are not only well matched through their watery names, they are equally well matched in the ring, going head to head throughout much of their illustrious careers.

    The all-conquering grey Wet Wet Wet, a son of Mr Blue, was the 1.40m winner on this occasion, with his fellow veteran Wellington M just finishing a fraction behind in the runner-up spot, but the latter also earned his moment in the spotlight when adding Aintree’s grand prix to his illustrious roll of honour.

    But both horses proved once again that they are as keen and fresh as ever despite their advancing years.

    “When Kerry’s on Wellington and I’m on ‘Blue’ [Wet Wet Wet] we always say it’s the two old boys out together,” said Annabel.

    “I didn’t see Kerry’s round but I know Wellington loves Aintree, so she’s always going to be quick there,” added Annabel of the 1.40m open she won. “Wet Wet Wet is just naturally quick and unbelievably careful though — I know Wellington probably jumped great but Blue just wins those classes so easy. He just loves it. He wants to win as much as I do and if horses want to do it, you’re already halfway there.”

    Kerry said of Wellington M after their grand prix win: “I take each show as it comes with him now and enjoy every moment, as I never know when it’s going to end.

    “I did drop him down a level over the past few months, and he’s been doing 1.30ms, but it got to the point where he felt he was ready for a big class again. Obviously that’s what he wanted as he went and won it!”

    Annabel experienced something similar with her veteran Wet Wet Wet.

    “He had a year when my other horse Creevagh Carisma took over jumping all the big classes — I was trying to give Wet Wet Wet an easier life, but I don’t think he liked it!” she said. “He was nowhere near as good in the smaller classes. I think he thought I was taking the p**s out of him! As soon as I put him back in a big class, he was back to life.

    “He’s loved being top man in the yard again and I know he’s old but I always pick him over all my other horses for the grand prix.”

    ‘He could buck me off and I’d still be smiling’

    There has been absolutely no sign that Wet Wet Wet is feeling his age.

    “He’s 19 but he’s an absolute machine,” said Annabel. “He comes out every single day like a nine-year-old. He loves life.

    “He’s never had a hard time, he loves to go hacking three or four times a week. He knows his job now so it’s not like he needs to go in the school and be drilled. He’s my best friend and we know each other inside out.”

    “He’s naturally fit and healthy, and he looks incredible for the age he is, so all credit to the team and credit to him — we always say he’s an absolute legend and to look like he does and to go like he does at 19 is amazing,” added Annabel.

    “I keep asking how long he can keep doing this, then I bring him out and he wins again! I’m aware he might not have long left so he never gets over-jumped and I’ll keep picking and choosing which shows I want him to go to. He tends to do the same handful of shows each year.

    “He makes me smile every day – he could buck me off and I’d still be smiling. This is my seventh year of owning him and he’s as happy now as he was then. We’re very lucky to have him and I’ll probably never find another one like him.”

    • You can read the full report from Aintree in this week’s magazine, in the shops on Thursday, 10 February.

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