Elite eventer’s stable star retires from international competition

New Zealand four-star rider Lucy Jackson’s stable star Willy Do has retired from international competition.

The 17-year-old gelding, who took Lucy to her first senior championship, will enjoy an easier life competing at the lower levels with the Kiwi eventer’s head girl, Emelia Hazell.

“He is on absolutely top form,” Lucy told H&H. “When is the right time, and how do we find the right time for the perfect horse [to step down], has been in the back of our minds for about six to eight months.

“I had kind of hoped to go out on a red rosette, then I fell off at Tattersalls and went too slowly across country at Gatcombe, but he has just been so completely brilliant for us for so many years that we thought maybe the end of the season was a good idea.

“He so enjoys himself eventing that I don’t think he particularly minds whether it is four-star or pre-novice (BE100), so this is a happy solution for everyone — he can enjoy his job and show Emelia the ropes.”

Lucy added Willy Do is well matched with Emilia, who she said is “amazingly kind, a brilliant rider, lovely person and hard-working”.

The horse was started by Caroline Powell, then bought by the Greenlees family as a six-year-old for their daughter Charlotte Greenlees.

Lucy took over the reins when the gelding was rising nine and the pair competed at seven CCI4*s together, including the 2014 World Equestrian Games.

They finished 11th at Badminton in 2014, 12th at Pau CCI4* in 2013 and had numerous top-10 placings at two- and three-star level, including second at Boekelo CCI3* in 2014.

“The Greenlees have been perfect owners,” said Lucy.

“Most weekends he would come home with a ribbon — every time I broke a limb, he would give me my confidence back. Even after having my daughter, he put me back together again.

“He has never really enjoyed being on holiday, he isn’t very nice in the stable and doesn’t particularly like people or other horses, he just loves his job.

“The biggest compliment I ever received [about our partnership] was that we were like an old married couple who would finish each other’s sentences — it is such an honour to have a bond with a horse like that. Thank you, Willy Do.”

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As well as his new role as schoolmaster, Lucy is hoping to aim Willy Do at some special classes, such as the indoor cross-country derby at Stockholm and the Hickstead eventers’challenge.

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