‘He had a great life’: farewell to former racehorse who took showing world by storm

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  • Jack The Giant, a talented thoroughbred who amassed almost £200,000 in winnings on the racecourse and then went on to claim all of the major RoR titles in the show ring, has been put down at the age of 19.

    The 16.3hh son of Giant’s Causeway had a hugely successful career when in training with Nicky Henderson, claiming one win on flat, three over hurdles and five steeplechasing, as well as numerous other Group 1 placings.

    After retiring from racing he was given to Sophie Henderson who brought together a syndicate of her friends — The Jackpots — who funded his second career in the show ring.

    He went on to stand Tattersalls ROR supreme at Hickstead, supreme at the ROR Championships Aintree, at Burghley and at Royal Windsor, as well as taking the 2016 SEIB Insurance Brokers Racehorse to Riding Horse title at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS), while produced and ridden by Allister Hood.

    After three years with the Hoods, he went on to another ridden career in dressage and in-hand showing before going into retirement at the National Stud, where he was often the centre of attention with visitors.

    “He was a great character who had such presence and ability as a racehorse and also as a show horse,” Allister said. “He took to showing quite quickly, he was naturally well balanced and he had a natural aptitude to work but he was quite cheeky as well, he wouldn’t have been a mug’s companion. You could hack out and enjoy him as long as you were aware if you gave him an inch he’d take a mile — but in a nice way.”

    He added that Jack’s quality shone out in the ring, and he did respond to a crowd.

    “You just had to have the prep before big occasion to make sure you really had him concentrating and with you because he would go up a couple of notches in a big arena,” he said.

    Despite Jack’s considerable success in the show ring, Allister said one of his greatest memories of his time with Jack was when they were invited back to Nicky’s yard Seven Barrows for an open day.

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    “We put on a little display in front of the house with all of Nicky’s clients there and the people who owned Jack as a racehorse (the Hanbury Syndicate] and we had the most wonderful day, seeing all his horses and being able to show Jack off,” Allister said. “They had a few schooling fences so we popped over those. He thoroughly enjoyed that; thought it was amazing.”

    Over the past few weeks Jack had become lame with suspected arthritis in his shoulder and the decision was taken to put him down.

    “It was very sad to hear but he had a great life and had a lot of care and attention,” Allister said. “He got to experience a varied life and everyone had him thought the world of him.”

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