British rider Jack Pinkney has responded to criticism on social media of his cross-country round at the French CCI5*, Les 5 Etoiles de Pau, on Saturday (26 October).
The 27-year-old was competing Raphael, a 15-year-old gelding owned by Julia Plaisted, at the pair’s first CCI5*.
His left rein snapped while jumping through the first water complex for the second time, between fences 10 and 11. Although they were awarded 20 penalties for crossing their tracks at fence 11, a brush covered “swan” in the second water, while Jack regained control, he and Raphael continued clear round the course.
After jumping fence 27, Jack lost his hold on the rein and dropped it. Raphael veered to the right before the course went through a gap in the event’s fencing and attempted to jump the very high wooden palisade wall on the right-hand side, crashing into it and depositing Jack.
“He started brilliantly and was flying round the course as always,” said Jack, who has an eventing yard in Hampshire. “We jumped into the first water, and when I went to turn left my left rein snapped on the rubber part.
“I managed to pick up what I could to complete the ride out of the water — and Raphael showed how class he is by just doing it.
“Then there was a galloping stretch so I had a bit of thinking time to address the situation. I decided I had enough control of the horse to continue safely — I had enough rein to hold and to play with.
“I shut the canter down and turned off my stopwatch, and tried to give him as nice a round as possible. I just wanted to get him home — he felt brilliant, it was our first CCI5* and I thought I was safe to go on.
“I took long options at fences where I could, and he was really listening and concentrating on the job, jumped some really technical combinations beautifully.
“Then he jumped fence 27, a big, wide table, so well that he took the rein out of my hand and I couldn’t catch hold of it again.
“Being a very brave horse with confidence in our partnership, he eyed up the wooden dividing wall between two parts of the course, and there was nothing I could do. He took off at it, I fell off backwards and he galloped off.”
In a video of the incident that has been posted online, Jack can be seen throwing his whip to the ground.
An emotional Jack said: “I was so angry with myself at that moment as I thought I could have hurt my horse. I was so upset with myself. I made a mistake — I should have pulled up and not tried to finish the course.”
He reported Raphael to be “fine — totally sound and happy, with just a really small cut on his face.”
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Jack and Raphael have completed CCI4*-L competitions at both Bramham and Blenheim this season, finishing 24th at Blenheim with a clear round across country and just 0.8 of a time-fault. They were also 10th in a CCI4*-S at Chatsworth in May. Jack has ridden the horse for five years and they have risen through the grades together.
“He’s such a gent,” said Jack. “I will never ride a horse like him again — he’s so talented in all three phases, especially across country, and I know him so well. He’s very easy to do anything with and only ever wants to please.”
Jack received an official warning from the Pau ground jury after admitting to them that he considered himself entirely at fault for the incident.
“I made a massive mistake — my adrenalin was up and I wanted to finish. I am just so relieved that my amazing horse is unhurt,” he said.
Check back later for more from Pau, plus full report in next week’s Horse & Hound magazine (dated 31 October).