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It’s Otto: Geoff Billington’s ‘horse of a lifetime’ with a penchant for champagne and socialising with humans *H&H Plus*

The quirky gelding with a penchant for champagne took Geoff Billington to the Olympic Games twice and captured the public’s imagination. Staying in the saddle with his soaring jump could be the only glitch, finds Madeleine Silver

“If I could have got It’s Otto upstairs at Olympia to one of the sponsor’s boxes, he would have loved to have sat down and had a craic with everybody, a drink and a nice bit of buffet,” says Jenny Ellis, who groomed for Geoff Billington and his “horse of a lifetime” It’s Otto.

Dipping his tongue in his rider’s glass of champagne was a typically lavish celebration for the indulged gelding. And on one occasion, panic descended over Jenny when she arrived at Otto’s stable at Hickstead to find it empty, only to discover that Geoff had put a headcollar on his stable star and taken him to the barbecue.

“He liked his mate to be with him at the party,” she laughs.

As Geoff’s former championship team-mate Di Lampard says: “Otto was like a god to Geoff; he always forgave him whatever he did.”

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