‘I might stop when I’m 90!’: meet the 85-year-old competing at HOYS

  • Jeff Osborne may stop driving when he turns 90 — but not before then.

    The 85-year-old founder of Osborne Refrigerators, which has been a huge supporter and sponsor of horse sport across the disciplines for many years, has just signed a new three-year sponsorship contract with Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).

    He has been competing here this week, coming seventh last night in the double harness scurry driving with five-year-old ponies Tik and Tok, and eighth with Twitter and Tweet in a separate class. He also his wife Alison win the Osborne Refrigerators double harness scurry championship with Woody and Buzz tonight, and come second with Chip and Dale.

    He won the private driving at HOYS a few years ago, and was national trade champion three years ago, and he told H&H he took up driving aged about 40, having raced motorbikes before that.

    “I thought I’d better, as I was getting a bit older,” he said.

    “With driving, it’s simple: it’s you, your animals and the course. In showing classes, it’s a matter of opinion, but this is all on your merit; if the ball stays [on the cone] or falls.

    “I drove a pair of six-year-olds here this week who have never been inside before, and have only done five shows, and they came fourth.”

    Jeff said that when it comes to horses, “you’ve either got it or you haven’t”.

    “When I walk into my yard, all mine prick their ears and say ‘hello, Dad’,” he said.

    “I had to have a pacemaker fitted this summer and missed half the season; the doctors said I’d be out for 10 weeks, but I negotiated it to six!”

    And Mr Osborne has no plans to slow down at any point soon.

    “I’ve just signed a contract for another three years [at HOYS] and I’ve got a beautiful pair of coloured ponies for next season,” he said.

    “Maybe when I’m 90, I’ll stop, if I need a stick to walk the course — but only then!”

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