‘I’m very lucky’: Jonty and Art jump first cross-country fences since accident

Irish Olympian Jonty Evans has sung the praises of his Rio 2016 ride Cooley Rorkes Drift, on whom he has jumped cross-country fences for the first time since his fall.

Jonty, who spent six weeks in a coma last summer, was filmed popping “Art” over some logs at Brian and Pammy Hutton’s Tallands centre last Friday (22 February).

Jonty told H&H Brian had suggested “having a canter round” in the field.

“He didn’t say anything about jumping!” Jonty said.

“A few people have asked, ‘were you nervous or anxious’ and I wasn’t at all.

“When I jumped my first showjump, I wasn’t that excited – but when I jumped this first cross-country jump, it was really exciting.”

In an interview last September, Jonty said his aim was to ride again, although that was “not meant to be part of the conversation”.

Three months later, he was hacking out on Art and in early February, he jumped his first fence on a surface.

Asked what the plan is now, he said: “The plan is that there isn’t a plan. I want to keep going, and getting better, and for Art to keep listening to me and getting better.

“I was doing flatwork this morning (27 February) in the same field and he was absolutely brilliant; I can’t tell you how good.

“I think the big thing to remember is that life’s going to be very different – there’s no getting away from that – but different doesn’t mean worse.”

Jonty paid tribute to his horse, whom he secured through a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2017.

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“I think his intelligence is what allowed him to do so well in Rio [the combination finished ninth],” he said.

“He can go to Rio, have a look round and do the job, and he can be back here and have me flopping around, and do the job; he just gets on with it. I’m very, very lucky to have him; what he does for me is incredible.”

Jonty believes that had the horse still belonged to an owner, he might have lost the ride by now.

“That doesn’t bear thinking about, that I wouldn’t have been with him,” he said.

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