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Farewell to five-star eventer who loved his job and was a ‘gentleman to the end’

Five-star rider Alex Postolowsky has paid tribute to successful event horse Islanmore Ginger, who gave her “the best day of my life”, following his death at the age of 22.

Ginger was found dead in his field, at the home of Paul and Elaine Newbert, who had owned him since he was a four-year-old.

The Irish gelding took Alex to her first Burghley, finishing in the top half twice, to top-10 finishes in the British open championship at Gatcombe and double clears at Boekelo, Bramham and Burnham Market.

“He really was a special boy,” Alex told H&H. “If I do it again, it won’t be the same as that first time. He gave me a high most people never experience; it was all down to him.”

Paul rode Ginger to two-star level, then Alex competed him from 2010 until his retirement aged 17.

“I knew he had the attitude and the will to go all the way,” she said. “He absolutely loved it and was as brave as a lion; I knew he had the heart to do it.”

Alex said Ginger had “an unusual technique” and way of going, and she had to learn how to ride him.

“His dressage was definitely his weak link,” she said. “He was all right in trot but in canter, had a habit of sticking his head up and trying to run off, especially down the centre line, but it was definitely getting better when he was 17, in his last year of eventing!”

Alex said that first Burghley was a very special moment.

“I’d watched the people I was on the young riders team with move on to that level, and had begun to think would it never happen for me,” she said. “It was what I’d always wanted, and I felt a bit left behind, so when I did it with him, and it didn’t happen easily, it meant even more to me.”

Alex described Ginger as a kind, gentle horse at home, who was ridden by all the family — “although I think he ran off with Paul a lot at home!” she added.

“He only got difficult the minute you wanted to jump him; he loved going fast,” she said. “But he never put a foot wrong, he always looked after you. Eventing is a dangerous sport and your life is a bit in the horse’s hands; I always trusted him and he looked after me, did the right thing and carried me round these big, difficult tracks. That was him all over.

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“I’ve had horses with more talent and more scope and better technique, but he just loved it and lived for it and wanted to do it. And he did.

“This horse gave me the best day of my life. My life has been quite simply so, so much better because of him. He gave me everything and I have so much to thank him for.”

Alex paid tribute to the Newberts, who she said were “lovely people to ride for”, adding that a vet friend of hers thought Ginger may have had a heart attack, as he had showed no signs of ill health.

“Elaine said he was a gentleman to the end,” she said. “He made the decision for us.”

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