Supporters of Over To You joined the horse and owner Jeanette Brakewell to celebrate the eventing legend’s 30th birthday yesterday (5 June).
Britain’s most-medalled event horse was surrounded by those who had supported his stellar career, for a party, complete with balloons and cake, at his home in Staffordshire.
“Reaching such a milestone deserved a proper party so we’ve rounded everyone up,” said Jeanette. “His Jerez [World Equestrian Games] rug comes out of special occasions so even though it’s hot we decided he needed to wear it when we gave him his cake, made by one of my owners Jill Sackett.”
As with all good parties the cake was then shared with his stable mates.
Among the guests were Davina Edney and Sam Hobbs, both of whom worked for Jeanette and accompanied “Jack” on his many travels.
“Nothing changes,” said Sam, after both she and Davina had to take action to avoid Jack’s flying hind legs. “He was awful in the 10-minute box, hated having his legs greased and studs putting in and you’d have thought at the age of 30 he would have mellowed but not a bit of it!”
Known for his legendary performances across country as pathfinder for the British team, his last event was 10 years ago at Tattersalls where he finished 13th in the World Cup qualifier. He retired as the most-medalled horse in eventing history, the record points scorer in Britain and for the quiz aficionados he was the last horse to run long format at Badminton.
Originally bought by the Clegg family to race, Jack comes from an illustrious racing family that includes the likes of Danny Harrold and Golden Freeze but showed none of his relations’ ability and returned to the Cleggs where he was re-broken by Jonty Evans, sadly absent from the celebrations after his Tattersalls fall.
Jack proceeded to break Fiona Clegg’s jaw and Jeanette was handed the reins along with the immortal words ‘Over To You’. The rest, as they say, is history.
He amassed four European team golds, two Olympic team silvers, one World team bronze and his World individual silver, is still ridden, looks like a horse half his age and was sporting a nifty pair of front shoes bearing the legend “Happy 30th Birthday Jack”, courtesy of farrier Steven Arnold.
“He’s still the same ‘grumpy’ personality unless you’ve got a treat and I owe him everything,” said Jeanette. “I suppose the Sydney Olympics and our silver at the World Championships in Jerez stand out but every event with him was amazing.
“I’d love to find another like him but I think they probably broke the mould — he’s built like a teapot, has a heart murmur and yet has been the soundest horse imaginable.”
Here we take a look back through Over To You’s astonishing career with Jeanette to celebrate his birthday...
Rory has become one of the branch's longest-serving volunteers
Horse & Hound salutes the incredible career of the Jeanette Brakewell's unique eventing partner Over To You
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