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‘Whatever happens, I’ll keep going’: 73-year-old rider targets Horse of the Year Show

At the age of 73 and after a showjumping career spanning nearly 60 years, showjumper Ian Marklew is still dreaming of competing at one of the pinnacles of the sport — Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).

The Tamworth-based rider is a regular competitor on the national circuit with his mare Portroyal and is hoping to qualify for this year’s bronze league final at the Birmingham show in October.

“I’ve been to HOYS as a spectator and how wonderful it would be to jump there?” said Ian.

At a recent show at Solihull Riding Club, Ian jumped to a double of victories, winning a 90cm and a 1m open with his 14-year-old Irish sport horse mare.

“I call her my ‘carer’,” he said fondly. “She’s a wonder horse, who never disappoints and I can’t believe how fortunate I was to find her. I’ve been truly blessed.”

Ian started showjumping as a teenager, when he competed against top riders in his area such as Stephen Hadley and Bob Ellis.

“I’m still serious about my sport,” he said. “I may not be jumping 1.40m or 1.50m courses, but I do have ambitions, albeit at amateur level.”

With a grand total of 355 points, Ian is currently leading the West Midlands standings in the winter NAF Five Star Bronze League, in which riders earn points in classes between 85cm and 1.10m.

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Riders in the bronze league are bidding to qualify for one of two semi-finals, held at Keysoe and Bishop Burton in August, where the 14 finalists will be decided. The Bronze League Championships has its final at Horse of the Year Show in October.

“Whatever happens, I’ll keep going and going and going!” said Ian.

Don’t miss reports from all this week’s showjumping action in Horse & Hound, out Thursday 12 March.

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