British event rider pays tribute to tiny winner who started her career: ‘He had a special light inside him’

  • Diplomatic Jack, the 15hh gelding who won at two-star (now three-star) level and set Alex Postolowsky on the path to becoming a professional event rider, has been put down at the age of 28.

    Alex owned Jack from a three-year-old. She said: “A friend in Northumberland went to look at a horse and Jack was in the field looking a bit weedy and straggly, but she could see he had a nice trot. So she rang Mum up and told her she needed to buy this horse for me. So Mum bought him unseen for £450.

    “He was so scrawny that even his pretty dainty little head looked big. He looked like nothing. However, he did have a lovely elegant trot and a beautiful bright eye – a bright youthful eye that he had throughout his whole life.”

    Alex remembers Jack as the most intelligent horse she has ever had.

    “He wasn’t like a normal horse,” she said. “He could work out how to escape from anywhere in any type of stable. We were often having to retrieve him from somewhere.

    “When we first started competing at Pony Club I remember him jumping a tiny log before the water then when he saw water he very calmly reversed backwards one leg at a time back over the log! I couldn’t do a thing about it.

    “But once he learned to cope with water, he was unstoppable. He won Pony Club championships, the Derby House novice owner-rider series final and the Baileys East Anglia novice series final, and had numerous wins at young rider trials, at advanced intermediate and old CIC2* [now CCI3*-S]. He was also selected as my reserve ride for the young rider Europeans.

    “He was always very sharp and used to bronc me off regularly. He even bronced me off from halt once at World Class training!”

    Alex said her favourite memories of Diplomatic Jack are winning the young rider trial at Lincolnshire in 2004 and landing Osberton CIC2* the following year as they were big local events, plus third at Burgie CCI2* (now CCI3*-L) in 2004.

    “It was only my second long format and we had roads and tracks and steeplechase and I walked the course and thought it was ginormous. He raved round and made it feel easy. William Fox-Pitt spoke to me on the way into the prizegiving so I was in total awe!”

    Speaking about what Jack did for her career, Alex said: “He set me on the path. I did well on another horse who I took to the young rider Europeans [Flint Curtis], but it was Jack who gave me the greatest exposure and showed me it was possible to do well.

    “He’s only tiny so you couldn’t afford to set him up much, helped by the fact he went in just a snaffle with no martingale and a cavesson. So I had to ride forwards otherwise he’d never make the distances so he was a good horse to learn to ride fast on.”

    Diplomatic Jack was put down on 17 June, as he had lost the use of one of his back legs.

    “I held him until he’d completely gone and it was the toughest decision and toughest time I’ve had watching an animal go,” said Alex. “I miss him terribly. He had a special light inside him.”

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