Ride of my life: Reta Wix

  • Reta Wix recalls her ride at Wembly in 1969 aboard Goodwill

    The one fence that stays in my mind from that working hunter championship is a big bullfinch. I never knew such a thingexisted and neither did Goodwill, but he jumped through it as though he’d been doing it all his life. He was only a four-year-old, but he was very bold and a perfect gentleman.

    The atmosphere at Wembley was great, but Goodwill just acceptedit all. In those days you jumped twice, once outdoors in the morning and again indoors over a course of around six fences in the evening. He jumped well in the morning and when we got to the bullfinch, I shut my eyes and I think he did the same!

    At night, I was last to go. Mary Gordon-Watson’s Cornishman had just jumped and he was the favourite to win – I remember thinking we might finish about fourth or even third.

    It was a big arena and there seemed to be lots of people watching. I was a bit nervous because of the occasion, although I’d been to Wembley before – and to Harringay – but not because of the jumping. But he never put a foot wrong; he sailed round with his ears pricked like the gentleman he was.

    Usually, they called you in according to the order you were placed, so when I wasn’t called in first I thought I hadn’t won. I was disappointed when I didn’t get called in until about sixth or seventh, though.

    When they did call me in to head the line I wasn’t watching and the steward had to come and get me. Goodwill was so good; when we got our rosette he stood like a rock with his ears pricked. I must admit I had a few tears then, I was so proud of him.

    I’ve had some good horses since – Mastermind, Border Classic, Border Raider – who was very much like Goodwill and was evented by David O’Connor – but Goodwill was special.

    Don’t miss this week’s Horse & Hound (23 January) where Charlotte Brew talks about her ‘ride of a lifetime’ earlier when she became the first woman to ride in the Grand National.

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