A horse who was so gangly and nervous he spent his six-year-old year living in the field has rapidly scaled the ranks to be contesting his first Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby this weekend at the age of eight.
Jumper Jack TS, who is owned and produced by Tom Hedgecock, will be partnered by David Simpson in this Sunday’s (26 June) much-anticipated class.
The super scopey grey burst out of nowhere into the limelight last month when he made the final round of the puissance at Royal Windsor to finish joint third, having never seen a red wall before the show.
But when Tom first imported the 17.3hh Mylord Cathargo x Mr Blue gelding he admitted he “didn’t get on with him well” and decided to turn him away.
“He was a really anxious, nervous horse, you couldn’t get your leg on him or put your hand on him. There was nothing nasty about him, he was just a sensitive soul,” Tom said. “He was also skinny and rangey and had a lot of maturing still to do.
“I met my partner Emma (Tickner) and she said she’d take him on for six months and she had a play around with him. Then I sat on him again and said ‘I want him back now!’”
“Ranger” has been back in work for a year and a half but has “still done less shows than a lot of four-year-olds”. His natural ability meant that once he was confident, he has been able to climb the levels quickly.
He is now partnered by David for the bigger shows and although he has only sat on the horse a handful of times, they have already achieved some promising results. The combination had just the two fences down on their first trip round Hickstead’s international arena in Friday’s (24 June) Derby trial, which qualified them for the main event.
“He’d jumped a few 1.30ms before Royal Windsor but that was it,” Tom said. “Height has never been a problem for him — at Royal Windsor it was more the atmosphere that tired him out as he’d never seen anything like that before.
“It’s taken a few years to get him how he is now but he’s now super confident and brave — nearly too confident and brave!
“He’s only recently stepped up to 1.45ms but the Derby isn’t a technical track and it doesn’t have complicated lines. David has a smaller derby course at home and he’s seen a bank, so it won’t come as a surprise to him.
“In the last six months he’s gone from zero to hero without a doubt.”