Kilbarry’s story marks the start of Britain’s success in three-day eventing. Julian Seaman tracks the history of the horse and his pilot, Col Frank Weldon
Kilbarry (1947–1957), by Malbrook out of Heligoland
Owner/rider: Col Frank Weldon
Kilbarry’s influence on the equestrian world is inextricably linked to the life and times of his rider Col Frank Weldon. With Kilbarry dead for 63 years, I wish I could have talked again to the late Colonel – who died in 1993 – about his star horse, and how the gelding shaped his later career as a Badminton course-designer.
Thirty-two years ago I had the honour as a freelance Horse & Hound contributor of interviewing Frank when he retired from Badminton, so I had somewhere to start. I also called upon his son George, a recent retiree, like myself, from the Badminton admin team.
Before World War II, Frank’s first love was racing. He was successful in hunter chases and between the flags, but he suffered a major disappointment when qualification changes prevented him from achieving his ambition of riding in the Grand National. Subsequently he had little sympathy for riders who just failed to make the cut at Badminton.