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‘The kindest and bravest horse I have ever met’: farewell to international winner who completed Badminton

Trig Point, who won twice at CIC3* (now CCI4*-S) level and partnered British rider Nicky Roncoroni to her first Badminton completion, has died aged 18.

“He was the kindest and bravest horse I have ever met,” Nicky told H&H. “He never had his ears back. You could put a baby on his back and he’d look after them the same as he did me jumping round some of the biggest tracks.

“Everyone he met was charmed by his character. I often said if he was human he’d be the sort of man you’d like to take home to meet your parents and that they would approve of! Classically good looking, charming, mannerly, talented, sporty, happy to read the papers on a Sunday morning but would climb Everest for you if you asked him.

“He also had that that spark that keeps you on your toes just so you don’t get complacent. He was without doubt a horse of a lifetime.”

Nicky added that Trig Point was the horse who gave her “a second shot” at her eventing career.

“I’d gone through young riders and was out in the doldrums for a good while, trying to make it work and struggling mentally and financially. He quite simply put me back on the map, and for that I will for ever be thankful – for all the opportunities that it brought and the way life was subsequently shaped by him.”

Nicky said that Trig Point was in flying form in his retirement and still being ridden, until he came in very unwell from the field one morning.

She explained: “We think he had developed some form of colitis. He was treated as best we could, without serious intervention which we didn’t want to put him through, but after six days of being very up and down, in the end it was clear there was nothing more we could do. He died in my arms the day before the 30-year anniversary of my father’s fatal accident in the RAF so it was a horrendously emotional week.”

Nicky first came across Trig Point at Goresbridge’s September sales, when he was a leggy, ungainly three-year-old. He was bred by John Killoran, by Ghareeb out of a Kiltealy Spring mare, and owned by Colin Bowe.

“He’s the only horse I have ever just had that ‘feeling’ about – I knew he was meant for me and I fell in love with him straight away,” said Nicky. “He was stable 36 and I always head in that direction whenever I go to the sales now just in case.”

Nicky’s advisor pointed out a large scar on the horse’s front leg and his pigeon-toed conformation so she didn’t buy him in the ring, but she struck a deal with his buyer, JJ Bowe, afterwards.

JJ named the horse Jerry “after TV show host Jerry Springer because his trot was so springy he’d bounce people out of the plate” and Nicky said her only problem with him as a young horse was trying to contain his giant movement in a 20x40m arena.

But Jerry, or #TheMightyJerry #TMJ as he became known, was a professional from the start and an outright competitor.

“More often than not he would be my calming influence, settling my nerves because I was sat on a horse I knew would do his all to perform for me,” Nicky said. “When the Equine Pathway was in operation, he was selected every year right up till the top ranks, which I think was testament to his consistency.”

Trig Point won twice at CIC3* (now CCI4*-S) level, at Ballindenisk in 2012 and Montelibretti in 2013, as well as the CIC2* (now CCI3*-S) at Central Scotland in 2010.

“My all-time favourite memory of him was when Team GB headed to Montelibretti for the Nations Cup. It was a fairly arduous journey down with my mother contracting some horrendous vomiting bug, and conditions were a little basic on arrival. It was the most fantastic team effort to keep everyone in good spirits, fed and watered, especially as a second member went down with the same bug and we thought it was going to wipe us all out.

“Jerry led from start to finish. The cross-country course was twisty, tight and the ground was firmer than a rock, which he hated, but he was a legend to gallop round in the time and jump clear on the third day to win individually and as a team. Most movingly, it was my parents’ ruby wedding anniversary.”

Nicky’s second-favourite memory of Jerry is from her first Badminton in 2013, when the pair completed with a clear cross-country round. This Badminton was characterised by Michael Jung’s debut and Andrew Nicholson and William Fox-Pitt going head to head for the Rolex Grand Slam.

“There was so much hype, the atmosphere was like nothing I’ve ever experienced,” said Nicky. “Jerry lost a shoe in the warm-up about five minutes before my start time for cross-country so it was fairly tense to get everything sorted on time – we had seconds to spare literally – and it was one of the most brilliant rounds I’ve had. I enjoyed every second, riding a horse I had absolute faith in who would try his very best no matter what.”

Nicky Roncoroni and Trig Point at the first horse inspection at Badminton 2013.

Jerry had a year off in 2014 with a leg injury, but returned to finish fourth in the CIC2* (now CCI3*-S) at Millstreet in the autumn of 2015. He was selected for the British team for the Nations Cup at Boekelo, but there was heat in his leg again so the Roncoronis decided not to put him under pressure at the top level again.

Jerry was the “most perfect mannerly hunter” and enjoyed days with the Beaufort and Ledbury as well as Nicky’s then-local hunt the VWH in his retirement.

Jerry also survived serious complications after a tooth extraction in 2015 and was nearly put down in 2017 with a bad sinus infection, but recovered after Nicky’s move to Ireland that summer.

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The rider decided not to hunt the horse in Ireland because he had not really liked ditches when he was competing – “I never took him to Burghley because I just didn’t want to break his heart” – but he continued to be ridden to the end.

Nicky explained: “He was the sort of horse at home that you could put anyone on, even if he was five-star fit. He was the happiest individual in the stable and in his work, until you put someone on him he didn’t like then he’d go with his ears out sideways, and let you know he wasn’t impressed. We’d often put potential new grooms on him when they came for interview as he was usually the only safe conveyance and if the ears went out you knew they were pressing the wrong buttons!

“He was the King of Castlekelly and was the best nanny to all the feral young ones – although he’d have the odd spook, you knew if a big tractor came past he’d stand like a rock. He kept my 71-year-old mum in the saddle, got one of our helpers back riding and competing, and won his last two combined training shows with her.”

A year ago, Nicky had a friend staying who had wanted to buy Trig Point as a four-year-old so she said she should have a jump on him. She had put the single fences down to 90cm, but the friend headed for a line consisting of a bounce, then a stride to a 1.20/25m vertical, then a stride to an oxer of the same size.

“It was like the whole thing happened in slow motion but off he went, ears pricked, tucking up his toes and trying his heart out as he always did to get the job done. After Mum and I had got over the shock and made sure everyone was ok, which they were, we were howling with laughter, but it was utter testament to his whole attitude to life of trying to do what he was asked, no matter what. He’d not jumped a line like that for at least five years!”

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